Titans Texans preview week four

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Titans Texans preview week four
Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan are vital to the Titans success today. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Titans Texans preview week four

The story almost every time these two teams meet is: “Can the Titans stop JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney?”

The Titans did not face JJ Watt last season. The Texans defense was curiously better without the future hall of famer. The Texans were the top defense last season. Three weeks into 2017, they are an average defense trying to overcome injuries. They are currently the 14th ranked defense in the NFL.

Here are some Titans players JJ Watt has never played against- Jack Conklin, Dennis Kelly, Jonnu Smith, Ben Jones, Josh Kline, Eric Decker, DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, and Taywan Taylor. Watt used to terrorize the Titans. In 10 games, he has 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Several of these players were added (among other reasons) to combat Watt’s success. It will be very interesting to see how all of these Titans fare against the former defensive player of the year.

The key to the game may be on special teams. The Titans have yet to get a huge return for their extensive investment on special teams free agents. The Texans have been poor in coverage. Titans rookie Adoree Jackson could very well break this game open. Last October, Will Fuller returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown against the Titans. The Titans need their special teams additions to step up this week.

How will the Titans revamped secondary fare? Fuller returns to play his first game this week. He has jets for legs and burned the Titans cornerbacks in the first matchup last season.  DeAndre Hopkins has always given the Titans fits. The Titans secondary is far better than a season ago, but they do allow an average of 275 yards per game. The talent is there. This week, the production must be there too.

The Titans legendary defensive coordinator, Dick Lebeau, is famous for giving rookie quarterbacks nightmares about his creative defensive schemes. He has a 15-3 record against rookie quarterbacks. DeShaun Watson was often compared to Marcus Mariota during the pre-draft process. He is mobile and adept at ad-libbing on the run. The Titans will have to employ a similar defensive scheme as they did to contain Russell Wilson last week.

To a degree, the Texans running game has been poor this season. Lamar Miller only averages roughly 60 yards per game. Watson has run well and rookie backup running back D’Onta Foreman has also contributed. Overall, they are the 7th ranked rushing offense. The only issue seems to be the starter, Miller.

The Texans will be without two of their top four cornerbacks. Kevin Johnson and Marcus Burley are both expected to miss this game. The Titans exceptional depth at wide receiver offers a significant advantage here. In order to pass to them, Mariota must drop back and risk getting sacked by Watt and Clowney. The Titans edge blockers must provide Mariota enough time to take advantage of this injury predicament the Texans are in.

Both teams should be able to run up the middle against the other. With each team sporting two very capable running backs, this will surely be something each team takes advantage of.

If Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin can continue to play at a pro-bowl level, the Titans should win this one. They could even win this game in a blowout. The Texans weakness at cornerback and that they allow nearly 8 ypc in front of the left tackle strongly favors the Titans.

The Titans played the Titans in January of 2017. They will actually play the Texans three times this calendar year.

 


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