Houston Texans 3-4
Tennessee Titans 2-5
LP Field Nashville, Tennessee
Kickoff Sunday at Noon on Fox
The Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game? Not likely but it will be the former Titans starter’s first return to Nashville to face the team that released him in the offseason. Fitzpatrick of course replaced the injured Jake Locker last year and went 3-7 as a starter for the Titans.
The Titans moved on in the 2014 offseason and now have Charlie Whitehurst as their veteran backup. It seems a bit weird to call him that given his lack of experience which showed this season. The big quarterback story isn’t either player but Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger who will be starting his first regular season game for the Titans.
Mettenberger has seen playing time in only one game this season against Indianapolis and was largely unimpressive. In all fairness, he only played six snaps but he went 2 of 5 for 17 yards, an interception and a passer rating of 10.0. Barring injury or meltdown, he will surely see more significant playing time Sunday and has been getting significant practice reps now.
The Texans defense he will face isn’t as strong as it has been in the past but it could benefit from the return of Jadaveon Clowney. The rookie linebacker was injured in Week 1 and hasn’t played since. He is questionable for Sunday but there are indications he could see some playing time . Below is the full Friday injury report:
Should Clowney play that could spell bad news for the rookie quarterback. The Titans offensive line has struggled in pass protection this season and has given up 18 sacks already. Despite pouring a ton of resources into it the offensive line has been a big disappointment.
Mettenberger brings a big arm but limited mobility. He does appear recovered from his ACL injury that he suffered at the end of his college career. He underwent surgery in January and recovery time varies. It’s not uncommon for the injury to affect players for a year or more though modern technology has helped reduce recovery time. Jake Locker will be the second string quarterback.
The Titans are playing their offensive line of the future right now with the insertion of rookie left Taylor Lewan into the lineup. He replaces the injured Michael Roos who has surely seen his last game as a Titan. Lewan had already been playing sparingly and seems pretty comfortable on the line. Overall he gets very positive grades for his performance thus far. He will face a steep challenge against Whitney Mercilus as well as Clowney if he plays.
The Texans have a better running game but neither team is very good in run defense. This might be a good opportunity for the Titans to get something going there. They did not give Locker a good running game to help him during his starts this season and you have to wonder if they do that for Mettenberger. A good run game is vital for a young quarterback.
For the Titans, the injury concern is clearly Coty Sensabaugh who won’t play for his third straight game. The Titans secondary is without Bernard Pollard and young players are being called into action. Blidi Wreh-Wilson will likely face Deandre Hopkins which is definitely a nightmare matchup for the Titans. Jason McCourty will likely cover Andre Johnson. This will be a big test of the struggling secondary and they will need free safety Michael Griffin to step up his game.
These are two remarkably similar teams and turnovers will probably decide the outcome. Fitzpatrick is known for his turnovers so the odds here would seem to weigh in favor of the Titans. However, a rookie quarterback facing J.J. Watt and Clowney could be forced into making mistakes. The Titans will need Mettenberger to play mistake free which is simply asking a lot of him.
Other game notes:
The Titans and the Texans have faced each other 24 times with the Titans owning the series at 15 games. They do well against the Texans at home having won 8 out of 12 home matchups. The Titans obviously have the Houston connection with the Texans since they were formally the Houston Oilers.
The game will be broadcast locally on Fox Sports. Kickoff is at noon Sunday and the temperature is expected to be in the 70s. The officiating will be handled by Bill Leavy and his crew. The broadcast team will be Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa.
Final score prediction: