The Houston Texans looked to rebound from their debacle in Foxborough when they hosted the division rival Tennessee Titans.
Talk about things going from bad to worse?
First, the Houston Texans go to New England and lay a 27-0 egg on a Thursday night against the New England Patriots. Then they learn that their best player has reinjured himself, is on injured reserve and according to the team is out for the season.
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So “Watt” will the defending AFC South champions do without the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year? They can ask the New England Patriots (minus Tom Brady) or the Minnesota Vikings (minus Teddy Bridgewater and eventually Adrian Peterson). Let’s keep in mind that this isn’t or never will be a one-man game.
So the reality is that the Texans host the Tennessee Titans in the first divisional game for both clubs. It’s important that O’Brien and company hold serve at home and considering Houston has prevailed in the seven of the last eight meetings between the clubs, the odds are in their favor. Of course, this will also be the first time since he was drafted in 2011 that the Texans will play a game without Watt.
Given the fact that the Titans possess the eighth-ranked running attack in the league this season, this will prove to be a challenge for a front seven that must play better than it did a week ago against the Patriots. You have to figure Whitney Mercilus and friends will put some heat on Marcus Mariota but that will be a non-factor if DeMarco Murray is busy racking up the carries.
It makes for a very interesting tilt in Houston as the Texans look to overcome the loss of one of the franchise’s biggest stars during its brief history.
Three games into his tenure with his new team and the fifth-year pro has been picked off at least once in each of his outings. Osweiler is also completing only 59.6 percent of his passes and while he’s thrown for three scores he’s been sacked six times. But with a little extra time to prepare for Tennessee’s 3-4 defense, look for the Texans’ signal-caller to have his best game of the season to date.
He has had a solid three-game start as a member of the Titans and looks closer to the performer who excelled for the Cowboys than the one that was underutilized by the Eagles. Murray’s 377 yards from scrimmage is fourth in the league and only 31 yards short of NFL leader Marvin Jones (408) of the Detroit Lions. He’ll have his share of success against Houston’s shaky run defense but will he get into the end zone often enough?
He leads the Texans with 16 catches and is second on the club (behind rookie Will Fuller) will 223 receiving yards. And Hopkins has two of Brock Osweiler’s three scores through the air, as well as two of the club’s three offensive touchdowns this season. Head coach Bill O’Brien will be giving the ball to running back Lamar Miller a lot but if the Houston offense is going to get untracked the 2015 Pro Bowl wideout will be the main catalyst.