After a few extra days to lick their wounds following a prime-time drubbing, the Houston Texans hope to protect their perch atop the AFC South standings when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Houston has won seven of its last eight meetings with the Titans, including all four under coach Bill O’Brien.
Houston is coming off a 27-0 rout at the hands of New England in Week 3 and hopes to rebound to the strong defensive form it flashed while winnings its first two games. The Texans will be without star defensive end J.J. Watt, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after aggravating the back injury that required surgery over the summer. “To lose someone like that, of his caliber, it’s tough for them,” Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota told reporters. “You never want to see anybody go down. … For us, we’ve just got to continue to game plan, focus on what we can control and do our best to execute whatever is asked of us.” The Titans were unable to cap a late rally last week, coming up short of the end zone on their final drive in a 17-10 loss to Oakland.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Texans -4.5. O/U: 40.5
ABOUT THE TITANS (1-2): Tennessee’s offense has moved the ball well on the ground, but the passing game has left much to be desired. Mariota has as many interceptions – four – as touchdown passes and hasn’t provided enough balance to complement DeMarco Murray, who has accounted for three touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving). An improved defense has kept the Titans in games, holding all three opponents under 250 passing yards, but the club has forced just two turnovers and had some trouble stopping the run.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (2-1): Quarterback Brock Osweiler isn’t putting up big numbers in his first season in Houston, throwing four interceptions and just three touchdown passes despite a dangerous receiving corps. The offense should be fine, though, if Osweiler can limit his mistakes, as Lamar Miller leads a strong rushing attack that has moved the ball well but has not yet found the end zone. Losing Watt will have an effect on the defense, but he hardly was in top form with just 1.5 of the team’s 10 sacks.
1. Houston has won five straight regular-season home games.
2. Titans TE Delanie Walker made 15 catches in two games against the Texans last season.
3. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins has recorded 24 receptions for 449 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games against Tennessee.
PREDICTION: Texans 23, Titans 16