Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – The (9-6) Houston Texans go into the final week of the regular season looking to become just the third team in franchise history with double-digit wins. On the other sideline in Tennessee, the (8-7) Titans are trying to have their first winning season since 2011. Also at stake in this game is Houston’s undefeated AFC South division record.
The Texans have had unparalleled success against their division opponents since Bill O’Brien has become head coach. Specifically against the Titans, he is (5-0). Coach O’Brien is also (2-0) against Tennessee in regular season finales.
“I think it means a lot. To finish with a double-digit win season in this league is very difficult to do. To be (9-7), (9-7) and then have a chance to be (10-6), I think it’s great. I don’t think you can substitute winning. I don’t think there’s anything that is better than winning,” Bill said.
The last time the two teams met was Week 4 in the NFL and the Texans won 27-20. It was the first game J.J. Watt had not played in since Week 17 of the 2010 season. Despite his absence since then, the Houston defense has been stifling.
“I think we have good leadership. I think Brian Cushing has done an excellent job in leading that defense. You know he’s the heart and soul,” Coach O’Brien said.
They are number one in the NFL in yards allowed per game, first in first downs allowed per game and second in passing yards allowed per game. Most impressively, the Texans have not allowed a 300 yard passer yet this season. It likely will not happen on Sunday.
Tennessee suffered a major blow to their turnaround campaign with the loss of Quarterback Marcus Mariota. He broke his leg in their Week 16 loss to Jacksonville. Matt Cassel will be under center for the Titans.
Cassel is in his 12th season in the league and has started 79 total games. His career passer rating is 79.2 and he’s thrown 78 interceptions to 102 touchdowns. In relief of Mariota against the Jaguars, Cassel threw for 124 yards, a touchdown and also a pick-6.
This season the Titans offense has been great under Mariota. They are ninth in the NFL in both yards per game and yards per play. With Cassel at quarterback there is no certainty the Tennessee offense can stick to those numbers, especially against the league’s number one defense.