Week 13: Houston Texans At Tennessee Titans
- QuarterbackA year ago it looked like the Texans had a chance to compete for the AFC championship, but they lost Matt Schaub and their backup quarterbacks were not up to replacing him. T.J. Yates did a solid job, but he could not throw the ball with Schaub’s accuracy or timing. Schaub has the ability to exploit any defense with those assets as well as his quick feet.The Titans should have Jake Locker operating at top speed in this game. While Locker has had problems staying healthy, he is a big, strong quarterback with solid footwork and a quick release. He is an accurate passer who knows how to avoid costly turnovers.
- OffenseArian Foster gives the Texans power, explosiveness and consistency in the ground game. He is one of the smartest and most talented running backs in the NFL. His ability to make big plays opens things up for the passing game and wide receiver Andre Johnson is peaking right now. Tight end Owen Daniels is a dependable receiver who can make catches in the red zone.After an inconsistent start, Chris Johnson has become a gamebreaking runner once again. He is using his speed and instinct to make big plays and has turned his season around. Wide receiver Nate Washington is a solid down-the-field target with big-play ability. Tight end Jared Cook is not a speedster but he has good hands.
- DefenseThe Texans get an explosive pass rush from second-year star J.J. Watt, who seems to register a sack and bat down a pass every game. The Texans have the No. 4 defense in the league and they are not just a one-man show. Linebacker Bradie James is one of the best tacklers on the team while defensive back Danieal Manning is a solid pass defenderThe Titans have some ability but rarely play consistently on defense. They rank 30th overall and struggle badly to hold their own against the run. Jordan Babineaux is a solid tackler who also can handle pass-coverage responsibility. Outside linebacker Akeem Ayers is the team’s best tackler.
- Special TeamsSpecial teams have been a disaster this year for the Texans. They have had a problem preventing kickoff and punt returns and this could be a key issue for them in important postseason games. Shayne Graham has had a decent year, making 20-of-25 field goal attempts, but he is just 1-of-4 from 50 yards and beyond.The Titans have plenty of confidence in placekicker Rob Bironas. He is one of the most consistent kickers and he has an excellent leg for long distance kicks. Punter Brett Kern does not get a lot of publicity, but he has a strong leg and he can flip the field with the height and distance on his punts.
The Titans are capable of hanging in there for a half, but it seems unlikely they could push the talented and consistent Texans any longer than that. Schaub is an MVP candidate and the Houston defense is capable of shutting down any opponent.