Texans vs. Titans: Seven Thoughts For Sunday

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 07: Wide receiver Andre Johnson #80 walks off the field after losing control of a pass that was intercepted by San Diego Charger Paul Oliver at Reliant Stadium on November 7 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Seven thoughts that have entered my head on the lead up to Sunday's Week 12 match-up between the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and football. On Sunday, after back-to-back road heartbreakers and four straight losses overall, the Houston Texans return to Reliant Stadium to meet the Tennessee Titans in their eleventh game of the 2010 NFL season.

Times are pretty tough for Texans fans after another loss to an AFC playoff contender. Many fans are convinced that the 2010 season is, effectively and realistically, over. However, the message this week is that...

1. ...this season is not over. Our compatriots over at Texans Bull Blog spell it out perfectly for Texans fans: Houston win + San Diego win + New York win = one game back within the AFC South with two division games left for Houston and six AFC South games total. This weekend could really bring the Texans back from the brink, and they believe that as neither player, coach, or owner have thrown in the towel on this season. Say what you want about Gary Kubiak, but he hasn't lost this team or the locker room yet. For the amount of bad luck Houston has endured, it would take an equal amount of good luck to get it done. It has happened before - last year's 4-6 New York Jets running on a tear to the AFC Championship Game. A turning point has to start somewhere, so why not with a bang in...

2. ...the T-n-T Rivalry Game? Even with the records as they are, playing the Titans means something for the majority of Texans fans. Oilers fans turned Texans remember Tennessee owner Bud Adams moving the franchise from Houston to Nashville. Over at Battle Red Blog, I have seen fans say that if they had to go 2-14 every year that they'd want those two wins over the Titans. Even as pessimistic as some fans have gotten, they still can't predict a Tennessee win because they're the Titans. Judging by how physical these games have become, you can sense that the players get the meaning of the rivalry as well. Texans and Titans is a powder keg of a game, so T-n-T is a fitting name. Explosives are also fitting when talking about the current state of the Titans because they are...

3. ...imploding. Once upon a time, the Titans were 5-2 behind a nasty pass rush and efficient offense. They had beaten the Philadelphia Eagles and stomped Jacksonville on Monday Night Football. Three games later, they're 5-5 - including a loss to a third-quarterback-led Miami team and defensive-challenged Washington. Quarterback Vince Young, who had been fighting injuries all season long, finally succumbed to a season-ending thumb tear. However, before the injury, he had been booed at home. Post-injury, he apparently was disappointed when he wasn't put back into the game, threw equipment into the stands, stormed off before being interviewed, got into a heated exchange with head coach Jeff Fisher, and ran out of the locker room while Fisher demoted him from his starting job. There have also been residual effects - pitting Team Vince vs. Team Fisher, a meddling Bud Adams telling the two to play nice, Young being denied access to team meetings, and the declined text message apology - that have dominated the headlines as rookie Rusty Smith prepares for his first start. Long story short: it's a mess in Tennessee. With a young quarterback, Texans fans should prepare for a lot of...

4. ...Titans running back Chris Johnson. The AFC's second-leading rusher will be one-half of the showcase alongside the NFL's leading rusher - Arian Foster. Battle Red Blog covered the ground match-up between Houston and Tennessee which revealed a few things. The Tennessee line just isn't pushing people around which leads to a boom-or-bust kind of running game. Chris Johnson's success is all about getting the big run because of a defense's lack of discipline. Houston's offensive line is doing marvels for Arian Foster. It's part of why he's had great success - even against top-rated defenses such as San Diego or New York. Foster has also shown that he can make something out of nothing, and is generally doing more (production-wise) with less (carries) than Johnson. Foster's doing so much more that he's about to re-write the franchise's record books. Another man re-writing record books is...

5. ...Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. As told by Nick Scurfield, Johnson is four catches away from being the first wide receiver with 60-plus catches in his first eight seasons - not even Hall of Famer Jerry Rice accomplished that. Scurfield goes on to add where Johnson could end up on the all-time receptions and yards list after the Tennessee game. There's also the possibility of a third straight 1,500-plus receiving yard season - if he has a strong finish - which no other receiver has done. The man is doing some phenomenal things on the field, and it is translating into the record books. I know every Houston fan knows Johnson is great, but we really need to appreciate the greatness while it is here chasing down records. Speaking of record-setting...

6. ...let's talk about the Houston defense! The chase of history continues on, as documented here, here, and here. It's pretty bad, folks, but the troubling thing is that it's getting worse each week. It's so bad that fans and fantasy gurus alike are advocating people to give Rusty Smith a start this week. Is that how little faith we have in the defense? Are we really thinking sixth round Sun Belt Conference rookie Rusty Smith, who plays for a Tennessee team that averages 184.7 passing yards per game, will shred the defense in his first start? It's a rhetorical question, but it sounds awful when you say it aloud. Regardless, Smith, along with the off-field distractions, is why...

7. ...the Texans are 6.5-point favorites and getting the majority of expert picks on CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo. I'll say it again: the team on a four game losing streak is a 6.5-point favorite and getting a majority of expert picks. This is a game, against a fading team with a rookie quarterback, that Houston should win. I have said it all week long, Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans do not want to see the reaction if Houston loses this game. Things aren't great now, but a loss will turn it downright ugly - especially on a short week with a trip to Philadelphia waiting on Thursday. The Texans desperately need this win, and the pressure's on them.

All that said, I believe the Texans will get the win (and #kubiakbelievesinthemtoo). The offense, whenever they show up, will score some points. Tennessee's pass rush has cooled off, and they're giving up yards and points of late. Despite the secondary, I don't think Rusty Smith will have a great game, maybe good or okay, but not great. I think Houston will come out and have a good performance. I'll say Texans 30, Titans 24.

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