Finally, we have a line on Sunday’s Titans vs. Texans matchup. Oddsmakers were waiting on word on Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota before releasing a line. With Mariota appearing ready to roll, Houston has been determined a two point favorite for Sunday’s game in Nashville. The total has been set at 44.5.
The line opened at Houston -2.5, but has quickly fallen to -2 and even -1.5 in some places. Placing the Titans as home dogs makes sense, considering the injuries and overall lackluster performance in Miami.
The narrative could have been so much different this week, however. The Titans’ first two drives actually developed pretty nicely. Taywan Taylor dropped a perfectly thrown ball from Marcus Mariota, forcing a field goal. Mike Vrabel opted to go for it on fourth down on the next drive, getting stopped just short of the goal line. Two good drives turned into just three points. That’s obviously a problem, but some positive signs were there.
Now you take away Delanie Walker and potentially Taylor Lewan from this offense against J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney? That’s a rough combination for an offense that has yet to come together.
I think the key to this one is how offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur adjusts his offense to nullify some of that defensive pressure. Expect the Titans to try to establish a running game early and really work the screen game hard.
Of course, you have to stop Deshaun Watson and the offense too. The Texans lit up the Titans last year in Houston, which was Watson’s only game against Tennessee. Watson led the charge, scoring 57 points in a disastrous game for the Titans, but I wouldn’t expect that to happen again this time around.
Vrabel’s familiarity with the Texans will likely help the Titans here. Watson wasn’t great last week against the Patriots, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 176 yards. Titans Radio analyst Dave McGinnis told us that Watson looked “rusty” in New England, playing in his first regular season game since suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2017.
Texans 23, Titans 20
There’s just too many questions for me to predict a Tennessee win here. If Lewan is able to play, that’s a game-changer. Assuming he can’t go, I think the Titans will have their hands full up front.
In addition to that, someone is going to have to step up and fill the void that Delanie Walker is leaving. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but I don’t think that issue is one you solve in just one week. Jonnu Smith is going to have to grow up in a hurry.