At least Rusty Smith gets a favorable match-up for his first NFL start. The Texans defense has been really, really bad against the pass this year. They are giving up 301 yards per game through the air this year (32nd), and their pass defense DVOA is the worst since Football Outsiders started measuring the stat at 54.3%. Rusty should have plenty of opportunities to show off that big arm and make plays down the field.
Houston is also not that good against the run giving up 107.8 yards per game (15th) and allowing backs to average 4 yards per carry. I would expect the Titans to give them a heavy dose of Chris Johnson early in this game to keep some of the pressure off Rusty. CJ has had two of his best games of the year since Randy Moss was acquired, 6.9 YPC against the Dolphins and 6.2 against the Redskins, raising his YPC from 4.1 to 4.5 on the season. CJ went off in his 2 games against the Texans last season with 348 rushing yards, and that was against a Houston defense with DeMeco Ryans and a performance-enhanced Brian Cushing.
The Texans are really good on offense. Matt Schaub is having another solid season (257.4 yards per gave with 13 TDs), and we all know about the problems that Andre Johnson gives the Titans. He has 463 yards receiving and 4 TDs in his last 4 games against Tennessee.
Arian Foster has given the Texans the legitimate rushing attack that they lacked last season. He already has 1,004 yards through the first 10 games of the season. Foster is a big back that can break tackles, and he has the speed to make a big run.
Titans pass offense vs. Texans pass defense
Advantage: Titans- As I mentioned above, the Texans pass D is historically bad, so even though the Titans have a QB making his first NFL start, they still have the advantage here.
Titans rush offense vs. Texans rush defense
Advantage: Titans- The Titans have Chris Johnson so they are going to have the advantage most of the time against opposing rush defense.
Texans pass offense vs. Titans pass defense
Advantage: Texans- The Titans pass D has been really bad the past 3 weeks, and the past 2 weeks they were bad against teams that aren't nearly as good passing as the Texans are. The good news here is that Owen Daniels isn't going to play, but Andre Johnson is still out there. This would be a really good week for Cortland Finnegan to return to form.
Texans rush offense vs. Titans rush defense
Advantage: Push- Foster has been really good, but so has the Titans defense against the run only allowing one 100-yard rusher on the season (Felix Jones). They will hold Foster under 100. Book it!
Advantage: Titans- The Titans have Rob Bironas and Marc Mariani- 'nuff said.
Advantage: Titans- Say what you want about Jeff Fisher, but he is a better coach than Gary Kubiak. If you don't believe me go do some research about some of the decisions Kubiak has made this season.
You have the recipe for a shoot out in this game with the defense not having the advantage in any of the individual match-ups (at least the way I see it). I said it in the prediction thread yesterday- Titans rally around Mike Heimerdinger and Rusty for a 35-31 win.