The Texans travel to Nashville with the hope of building on their maiden win, after last weeks victory over Jacksonville. Securing a consecutive victory would seem unlikely against an undefeated Titians who handled the 4-0 Bills on Tuesday Night, 42-16. A game that many decried a statement win however, upon closer inspection, the game was not as convincing as the box scores would suggest.
The Titans are on limited rest and with signifiant injuries that may well factor later in the game. Though considering their early enforced week-three bye, due to positive Covid tests, they’ve played less football and had an improved consistency in this weeks preparations.
Since Mike Vrabel left Houston to take the Tennessee position the team are split 2-2. Though the most recent, a Titans win on the final day of last season, Houston rested their starters, allowing the Titans into the play-offs. A game that paved the way for Tennessee to reach the AFC championship game.
That post-season run was characterised by Derick Henry’s bouldering running style, controlling the clock and suffocating opposing defences. The Texans have a glaring weakness against the run, currently 32nd in yards through 5 games, which may be an overbearing component in this game. Though Henry’s yards-per-game and per-attempt are down, he will remain a strategic consideration for Anthony Weaver’s game plan.
As Houston’s inability to get off the field and stop the run has translated to the offence. As they sit 4th in total yards-per-play, they rank last in time of possession. Simply, the offence hasn’t had the ball due to opposing offences dominating on the ground.
Last week, provided the Texans an opportunity to win but they will have to take a similar step forward again if they are to come close. Failing would confine their season as over, with the trade deadline approaching. Jack Easterby fielding offers for your best players is something many can ponder as a frightening hypothesis that may be realised post a defeat, in the coming weeks.
KEYS TO THE GAME
THE WATSON FACTOR – who’s yet to have an ineffable performance this season, will need to come alive. If his teammates can play fundamentally sound defence, providing a QB-vrs-QB clash, which presents a chance for the Texans to finally shape up into their pre-season vision. The notable improvement in pass protection, will have to hold against, Landry, Simmons, Jones and (sighs) Clowney, who’ve not influenced games in ways the team would have hoped.
DEEP PASSING ATTACKING – Tennessee’s ability to rush the passer in terms of pressures sits at 4th fewest and their secondary, missing Adore Jackson, is there to be exploited. As the Texans skill group who are slowly becoming synchronised with Watson. Former Texans-Great Johnathan Joseph, at 36 years old, is a guy who the Texans can target deep.
RUN OUTSIDE – David Johnson is not a running-back for inside the guards. The Texans line don’t block well on with inside concepts, either power or zone. Thought Johnson has shown his ability to find space when stretching plays to the edge of the box. A concept that can be worked against the Tennessee front and can arguably be run with the far more elusive Duke Johnson. A player the Texans continually to criminally underuse through the air and on the ground.
HANDLING PLAY-ACTION – Houston will have to handle play-fakes better than they did against the Vikings, where Kirk Cousins torched them them with a passer rating of 127.1. The 2019 week 15-encounter showed a heavy package of blitzing form Romeo Crennel, it would be to expected this may be Weaver’s most aggressive call-sheet to date. Otherwise AJ Brown could find himself slipping the grasp of Bradly Roby.
JONU SMITH – treating the former FIU standout in the same vein as a star tight end would now appear a reality for opposing defences. As versatile third-year player has given the Texans their fair share of highlight reel plays since entering the league as 3rd round pick in 2017.
THE RUN FITS – bottling Henry to a performance similar to the 86 yards he was held to in week 15 has to be the aim. If the Texans show regression against the run, after much needed progression just a week ago, their chance of a meaningful season may be over by the conclusion of week six.
HOUSTON @ TENNESSEE; 12pm CT; NISSAN STADIUM NASHVILLE; CBS