Running the ball and blitzing Locker are the keys to this game
Outside of their meeting in the final week of last season when the Texans sat nearly every key player to rest up for the playoffs, the Texans have dominated the Titans over the last couple seasons. In their last two games, the Texans have outscored the Titans 79-21. In their last game, the Texans defense dominated the game with four sacks, forced three turnovers, and returned two interceptions for a touchdown. Since that game, the Texans defense hasn't played as well in a couple games, especially after the injury to Brian Cushing. I addressed why I thought their pass coverage has slipped in an article on Monday, but they have a chance to gain some confidence back against a pass offense that ranks 20th in yards and 21st in touchdowns.
Here are a few things to look for.
Feed Arian Foster
Looking at the numbers, the Titans would be ranked lower in pass defense, but teams choose to run the ball instead of passing, because their rush defense is even worse. The Titans rank 27th in rushing yards allowed, 22nd in rushing touchdowns allowed, and 20th in yards per carry allowed this season. Opponents have rushed for over 140 yards against the Titans in seven of their eleven games this season; they're vulnerable against the run to say the least. The Texans need to run the ball early, get Foster into a rhythm, and then look to beat the Titans deep later in the game with the play action pass. If they're able to establish the running game early, I don't see a way for the Titans defense to hold them under 30 points in this game.
Bring The House
I believe in the strategy of blitzing young or inexperienced quarterbacks and playing back against better, more experienced quarterbacks. Good quarterbacks recognize when and where the blitz is coming from, know who their hot read or quick option route is, and get rid of the ball on time; young quarterbacks like Locker do the opposite. The Texans haven't put much pressure on QB's in their last several games outside of J.J. Watt, so I want to see Wade Phillips bring five or six players, speed up Locker's reads, and hopefully cause a few turnovers. Opposing quarterbacks have had too much time in the pocket in recent games, I hope the Texans are more aggressive on Sunday. If they're able to hit Locker early, they can rattle him and have this game wrapped up before the 4th quarter. They must avoid a third straight overtime game.
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