AFC Game Of The Week

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

Titans: They’ve dropped their last two games. In their prior eight contests, the Tennessee Titans were 7-1 in the eight games quarterback Ryan Tannehill had started for them. They lost a close one to the Texans in week 15 which I knew would be a battle as most division contests are. Coming into week 16, I knew they’d have their hands full with the New Orleans Saints in town for a showdown. I also called that a trap-game because I had a strong feeling, they’d play the Saints tough. They did for a half but failed to adjust in the second half. They did lose the game, but with the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the New York Jets, the Titans moved themselves back into the playoff picture as the sixth seed in the AFC playoff race. What I enjoy about them is how they always play downhill. This is one of the old school football teams remaining in a league that’s so pass happy. They want to run the football and control things up front with their offensive line. As a defense, they aren’t necessarily the quickest, but they’re a steady group. They get to the football anyway they can. The scenario is simple for them. Win, you’re in the playoffs. They’ll wrap up their regular season on Sunday with a divisional tilt in Houston.

Texans: I still have my questions about them. I can never figure them out and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. They were lucky to come away with a win on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their offense seemed off and out of sync. Deshaun Watson didn’t throw a single touchdown pass, but he threw an interception. The Texans defense won this game for them in week 16. They intercepted Jameis Winston four times. With the win on Saturday, they were able to clinch the AFC South for the second consecutive season. I just never know which team of theirs is going to show up. Could it be the one that played their best football of the entire season against the New England Patriots back in week 14? Or is it the team that’ll drop the ball like they did in Denver a few weeks back? Or even when they got off to a sluggish start against the Baltimore Ravens? The only way the Texans will be successful is if they start quickly. They seem to lack confidence when they get behind in games. Houston will look to end the year with a win on Sunday in a final tune up before the playoffs. The Titans come into town for the season finale.

Titans Player to Watch: Kenny Vaccaro– He’s the missile for the Titans defense. What Minkah Fitzpatrick is to the Steelers is what Kenny Vaccaro means to the Titans. He’s a safety that plays like a linebacker. You have safeties that like to cover in the back end, then you have the ones that like to do the dirty work. That’s exactly what Kenny likes to do. He also has the instincts of a cornerback because he can cover his ground and go for the interception.

Texans Player to Watch: Whitney Mercilus– When J.J. Watt was injured for the season, he stepped up and became the leader for this Houston defense. His specialty is rushing the passer. That’s what the Texans drafted him for. He lines up all over the field and gets to the passer. Whitney has also become a solid run stopper. Anywhere the ball is, you’ll see number 59 in on the tackle.

Final Analysis: They played in a close game in week 15. Two weeks later, here we are with another showdown. This is a playoff game for the Titans. I already hear Mike Vrabel preaching this to his team. He’s the right guy to say this considering the experience he has from his days with the Patriots. The Texans struggle to stop the run. I’m establishing Derrick Henry early if I’m the Titans. There’s nothing wrong with putting the football in the hands of your best player. The Texans need to tighten a few things up before the playoffs next weekend. It was a close battle when they met a few Sunday’s ago. I could see the same in this one.

Prediction: Titans 23 Texans 14

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