This is always an interesting game. As I mentioned the other day, the Titans are 10-2 in this serie, but that hardly tesls the story. Most of the games have come down to the wire. Who can forget the 2006 game when Vince Young won the game with a 39 yard touchdown run in overtime, or the game in Houston last season when Rob Bironas kicked an NFL record 8 field goals? The Titans come out on top most of the time, but it is never easy.
Another thing that makes me nervous is that all of the "experts" picked the Titans.
I don't expect this game to be any different from the ones in years past. The Texans are coming off a crazy couple of weeks that included them being displaced because of Hurricane Ike and having their game against the Ravens cancelled. It will be interesting to see how the Texans come out for this game. The best thing the Titans can do is jump on them early to deflate any momentum they have.
The Texans have decided to build with defense. They spent the #1 pick in the 2006 draft on DE Mario Williams, the #33 pick on LB Demeco Ryans, and the #10 pick in the 2007 draft on DT Amobi Okoye. Last season they finished 24th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense so it hasn't come together just yet, but they are young and improving.
Last season the Titans ran the ball well against the Texans gaining 155 yards and 153 yards in the two meetings respectively, and they didn't even have Chris Johnson. I know this isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff here, but the Titans will try and establish the run in this game. Last week the carries were split 50/50 between Crazy Legs and The Round Mound. I would expect it to be the same in this game. Use CJ early to losen up the defense, pound them in the middle of the game with TRM, and then watch CJ break a big run when they are worn down.
Kerry Collins only start of last season was in the Bironas game, and he went 25 of 42 for 280 yards. I don't see Collins throwing the ball 42 times in this game, but he will continue to play efficient football like he did last week.
Justin Gage is going to be a game time decision so Brandon Jones will probably start in his place, but we should get our first regular season look at Lavelle Hawkins.
The Titans defense will get after Matt Schaub just like they did last season when they knocked him out of both matchups. They may want to re-think that game plan though because if they knock Schaub out of the game Sage Rosenfels, the Titan killer, will come in.
The biggest challenge for the defense will be to contain Andre Johnson. Johnson is simply one of the best receivers in the NFL, and just about the only weapon the Texans have on offense. I cannot wait to see Cortland Finnegan matchup against Johnson a little bit. We won't get to see much one-on-one because that is not the Titans style, but there will be a few battles.
I am also interested to see Steve Slaton. He had a really good career at West Virginia, and carried the ball 13 times for 43 yards in the Texans opener. He will probably end up as their feature back if he can stay healthy, which he had trouble doing in college. The Texans also have Ahman Green, but I am sure he is hurt.
This game will probably come down to the wire, but I see the Titans being able to have a lot of success on the ground and coming out with a win.