NFL Pick: Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans Preview
The Titans need a win in this game in the 1:00 hour to make it so they can watch the 4:00 games with some rooting interest. A win by the Titans parlayed with losses by Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Jets, and either the Denver Broncos or Oakland Raiders will get them into the playoffs, but without the first step, none of it means anything. This is a team that just hasn’t looked right over the course of the past few weeks. Sure, Tennessee knocked off the Jacksonville Jaguars last week at home, but before that, there were two straight losses to the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. The offense hasn’t scored more than 23 points in a game since November 13th, and in that stretch, the defense has played okay, allowing no more than 27 in any of the duels, but it hasn’t held a team under 17 either. QB Matt Hasselbeck could be playing in the last meaningful game of his career. He has thrown for 3,274 yards and 16 TDs against 14 INTs, but those numbers just aren’t going to get him another job next year, especially with the Titans, who have committed their future to rookie QB Jake Locker.
This is definitely a good news, bad news situation for the Texans. The good news is that they have already locked up their No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, and they can’t move up or down from here regardless of the result in the regular season finale. The bad news is that the team is in terrible form, having lost back to back games against the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has been away from the team for two weeks dealing with medical issues, but he should be back in the box calling plays once again this week, which should help out dramatically. He’ll hope to get back on the field for the first playoff game in franchise history this week. WR Andre Johnson, who has been battling hamstring injuries all year, should be back in the fold as well, though he will clearly be limited if he plays since this one doesn’t mean anything to the team, save for carrying some momentum into the postseason. QB TJ Yates probably won’t do a heck of a lot in this one, and nor should RBs Ben Tate and Arian Foster. With all of the injuries that this team has taken over the course of the year, any more knocks could be a horror for the postseason.
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans Trends: The first time these two teams met this year, Houston ran away with a 41-7 triumph to stop what was a growing skid. From that point on, it won seven in a row and covered six of the seven before losing these two games consecutively. Houston is still 6-1-1 ATS in its last eight games overall. The underdogs have covered 11 of the last 16 in this series, a trend that the Titans have to bust if they want to have a shot at making the postseason. The ‘over’ has cashed in eight of the last 11 meetings of these AFC South rivals, but the ‘under’ is 8-0-1 in the nine games that the Titans have played since taking on the Texans at LP Field.