The Titans haven't won at home since they played the Jets in late September, depressing I know, but they will host a rematch against the 'Super Bowl Contender' Texans who are riding a delightful 13 game losing streak. Will they give the LP faithful a better show this coming weekend?
Quarterback / Wide Receiver
It will be interesting to see how Ryan Fitzpatrick finishes his season this year. Will he put a complete game together like he did against Indy the first time around? Or will he pull a Seattle? The former might ensure he remains with the team next year or better yet, finds a suitor on another QB needy team. His year with the Titans has been yet another roller coaster for him, mixing in good performances with ugly ones.
Nate Washington (+3.1 last week per PFF) will be matched up against Kareem Jackson, whom Texans fans tried to sell to us earlier this year as one of the league's best corners. He surrendered 8 catches, 126 yards, and 2TDs last week alone. This should be a pairing Tennessee can exploit. Nate is actually within reach of 1000 yards, only 120 shy coming into Sunday's game. The Titans haven't had two, 1000 yard receivers since 2004 with Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett. Comparatively, Kendall Wright needs 11 catches to notch 100 for the year. He should have a field day with Jonathan Joseph, who is still not 100% healthy.
The offensive line group put together a stronger performance last week, notably in the second half. Lost in that was Brian Schwenke's (-2.3) struggles. He was the only Titan offensive lineman to grade negatively on the day, and was worked over more than once by the Jaguar DTs. Andy Levitre on the other hand, posted a +3.7, an outstanding performance from the expensive FA. Stepping into Stewart's shoes, Byron Stingely notched a +2.2 as well. I am hoping to see Stewart out there this week, as it may very well be his last game in Two Toned Blue.
The line will have a tougher task this week, going up against JJ Watt, who is garnering even more love than last year from analysts and football metrics alike. His battle against Warmack and Schwenke in the trenches will be something to keep an eye on. It will likely dictate if the Titans can run the ball the way they want to. I would expect plenty of the counter runs that Dowell Loggains seems to love and has actually had some success with, to combat the over-aggressive Texans D-line.
CJ's last game in Titan blue will coincide with his effort to become just the sixth player in NFL history to record six straight 1000 yard seasons to begin a career, breaking Eddie George's franchise record. The reason that this will be his last game as a Titan are numerous, but the fact that he legitimately might not gain 50 yards on the ground in a game is just an example of why this team needs to move on. That said, he had a decent game against the Texans the last time around, what seems like years ago, in week 2. It would be nice to see him finish strong.
This side of the ball features a marquee match-up in Titans DT, Jurrell Casey, going up against Texans C, Chris Myers, who ranks as the best run-blocking center in NFL this year. The Titans will likely also try to single Casey up against Guard Brandon Brooks, who has struggled in pass protection. Morgan and Pitoitua are both coming off solid games in Jacksonville, and they will need to get some pressure again today. Matt Schuab was again in the Texan's lineup last week he had a 100+ QB rating in a clean pocket, but an arthritic 6.7% completion rate when blitzed. The Texans best hope Case Keenum is ready to go.
The Titans linebackers will likely continue their musical chairs act this week. Hopefully the staff have come to their senses (and watched last week's game film) as it relates to Colin McCarthy starting at OLB. Zach Brown was far superior in that spot as expected, but has missed practice time this week with illness. It will be worth watching if he ends up back in the lineup this week or not, regardless of health. Fokou has been on a steady decline in his play since the early going's of the 2013 campaign. The linebackers have faltered similarly, with an ever increasing rush yards per game allowed. Last week they were able to bottle up the Jags running game very well, and that will be key again against a team that isn't used to not having either Arian Foster or Ben Tate in the backfield.
Verner will be looking for strong finish after late-season slump. Both he and McCourty have faltered somewhat down the stretch, but both have had impressive seasons. They will have the task of matching up with Andre Johnson, who continues to ward off Father Time and is having another great season, especially when you consider the Texans QB carousel. The Titan corners will also have to contain DeAndre Hopkins, who was the major reason for the Texan's win over Tennessee in week 2.
The Titan cover units will need to be disciplined this time around, as they gave up more than one good return to the Texans the last time the teams met, and that additional field position played a big part in Tennessee's loss. Bironas has been kicking well of late after a shaky start to the year, here's to hoping he finishes yet another season strong, as well as for Leon Washington to break a long one.
'Munchak Watch' is officially on, as the season comes to a close and the coach's job is evaluated by team ownership. This could very well be his last game on the Titans' sidelines, but at this point it wouldn't surprise me if he comes back next year, however much we want him gone. This game will also be a farewell to CJ and likely to Dave Stewart. And if you're at the game, you can wave goodbye to Kenny Britt as well!
The Texans put up a stiff fight against Denver last week, so they will not be pushovers. That said, many (if not all) Texan fans are hoping for a loss to tie up the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, so it would be nice to spoil that for them. I see two teams who have been flailing for some time now, and who's futures are very much in the air. Also worth noting: even if the Titans win Sunday, they will finish 2-4 in the division, worst since 2004. At this juncture, I expect very little, and maybe that is a blessing going forward into the new year, since many things will definitely be different when the 2014 season kicks off many months from now.