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TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: Tennessee Titans At Houston Texans

Tennessee Titans
Houston Texans
(credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Quarterback
The Titans started their season with an impressive road win at Pittsburgh, but Jake Locker really had little to do with it. He completed 11-of-20 passes for 125 yards, but he did not throw a touchdown pass. Locker has a long way to go to be a consistent quarterback. At this point, he is a game manager for head coach Mike Munchak.
Winner The Texans are a solid team, but they have not been able to play at their best when they get to the postseason. Some of that is on quarterback Matt Schaub, who has the field vision, quick release and sufficient arm strength to win big games. He understands what the defense wants to do and he can usually come up with the right play to solve it.
Offense
Chris Johnson is one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL, but he’s not going to overpower anyone if he gets hit in the backfield. Jackie Battle will handle the short-yardage carries and he can overpower tacklers. Nate Washington is a decent big-play threat on the outside and Kenny Britt has explosive speed, but he is not always dependable.
Winner The Texans have a versatile offense that is led by running back Arian Foster. While he may not be as dominant as Adrian Peterson, he doesn’t have to take a back seat to any other running back. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is one of the elite receivers in the league because of his size, strength and dependable hands. Tight end Owen Daniel has excellent hands and plays a vital role on third-down plays.
Defense
Winner The Titans played sensationally on defense in their opener as they didn’t give the Steelers anything until they scored a meaningless touchdown late in the final quarter. Outside linebacker Zach Brown may not be a high-profile player, but he had eight tackles and 2.0 sacks against Ben Roethlisberger and helped turn the game in the Titans’ favor. Safety Bernard Pollard is a punishing hitter.
Winner It all starts with defensive end J.J. Watt leading the charge from his spot on the defensive line. He not only has the ability to turn the corner and sack the quarterback, he excels at batting down passes. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus has the speed to get to the quarterback and cover running backs and the tight end on pass patterns.
Special Teams
Winner Rob Bironas has a strong leg and he got his season off to an excellent start by making all three of his FG attempts in the opener against the Steelers. Brett Kern is not an overpowering distance punter, but he excels at placing the ball inside the 20.
Special teams were an issue for the Texans last year and they may not get much better this year. Unproven Randy Bullock takes over as the Texans’ placekicker, while former Raider Shane Lechler is the new punter. The Texans’ return game is ordinary and so are their coverage units.

The Winner Is

(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Winner Houston Texans
3 out of 4

The Texans became a legitimate power team in the AFC last year, but they couldn’t sustain their success in the postseason. Look for the Texans to get off to a good start in their first home game of the season and derail a hard-trying Tennessee team that is trying to carve out a new identity in 2013.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

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