Preview: Titans at Texans
Their ugly start to the season now a distant memory, the Houston Texans can set a franchise record when they host the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. The Texans own a two-game lead atop the AFC South and will go for their eighth consecutive victory after opening the campaign with three straight losses, including a 20-17 setback at Tennessee in Week 2.
Surging Houston is coming off consecutive two-point triumphs at Washington and Denver, giving the team four victories by three points or fewer during its winning streak. “We just try to keep on stacking wins and put us in position for later on down the season,” Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson told reporters. “It’s a very important game. It’s a home game. We want to win those. It’s a division game. We have to make sure we prepare well and get ready for it.” The Titans squandered a chance to make Monday’s matchup a showdown for division supremacy, following a pair of decisive wins over Dallas and New England with a 38-10 loss to Indianapolis last week. Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota was knocked out of that game with a stinger, but he practiced fully on Friday and Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur pronounced him “ready to roll.”
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Texans -6. O/U: 41.5
ABOUT THE TITANS (5-5): Mariota had his two best games in the wins over the Cowboys and Patriots, and it was feared that last week’s injury was related to the elbow issues that have plagued him for most of the season and forced him to miss the Week 2 matchup versus Houston. Running back Derrick Henry, who was used out of the wildcat in the first meeting, could be in line for a heavier workload as part of a backfield tandem with Dion Lewis, LaFleur said after Friday’s practice. Corey Davis is Mariota’s top target with 45 receptions, but it’s unclear if fellow wideout Taywan Taylor will return after a two-game absence. Tennessee had the NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense until it was shredded by the Colts.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (7-3): Watson had his NFL coming-out party against Tennessee last season in his third career start, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for another as Houston set a franchise record for points in a 57-14 rout. He has not thrown for more than 239 yards in his last five starts and the Texans have scored more than 23 points just twice, but wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has at least one TD catch in five straight games and eight overall after posting an NFL-high 13 receiving scores last season. Running back Lamar Miller is providing balance to the offense with at least 18 carries and 86 yards rushing in three of the last four games. The Texans are fifth in scoring defense (20.5 points).
1. Hopkins has at least 100 yards in three of his last four versus Tennessee, including 110 and a TD in Week 2.
2. Mariota had a passing and rushing touchdown in his last matchup against Houston.
3. Texans DE J.J. Watt has registered 10 sacks on the season, including one in each of his last three games.