Texans vs. Titans Odds
The Texans showed their first signs of life in the 2020 season in a Week 5 win over the Jaguars. Houston was able to show the playoff team from last season still exists in Week 5 by beating Jacksonville for the first win of 2020. We’ll find out how much progress was made from that victory this week when the Texans travels to take on the AFC South-leading Titans.
Meanwhile, Tennessee entered last week’s game against Buffalo a very lucky 3-0. The Titans started the season with three wins over the Broncos, Jaguars and Vikings by a combined total of six points. Their 42-16 win over the Bills this past Tuesday night sent a strong message that head coach Mike Vrabel’s team is not to be doubted.
Despite their unbeaten record and statement win last week, the Titans enter this home matchup with the Texans a 3.5-point favorite. Despite the Texans’ newfound energy last week after Bill O’Brien’s firing, a fully-loaded Titans squad is too much to handle for them.
Let’s dig into why.
The Texans enter Week 6 off a much-needed win against Jacksonville that saw them gain nearly 500 yards of total offense. Houston showed that it still has plenty of talent and moving on from O’Brien was necessary, but can the Texans build on that success this week?
Offensively, the Texans are in for an uphill battle as it will be strength on strength between their passing attack and the Titans’ pass defense. Last week we saw the difference pass protection can make for Deshaun Watson as he was pressured on a season-low 17% of dropbacks.
The extra protection let speedy receivers Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks get downfield and make big plays. Fuller found the end zone for a third straight game, while Cooks had 161 receiving yards, his most since Week 15 way back in 2016.
The Texans should have a chance to replicate that success as the Titans rank bottom 10 with a pressure rate of 21%.
Defensively, the Texans stepped up in Week 5 holding the Jaguars to 75 rushing yards. This was a step in the right direction for a defense that allowed more than 160 yards rushing in all four games to start the season. Now, the Texans will have a chance to show this run defense is for real as they face Derrick Henry, who ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns in Week 17 against Houston last season.
On the coverage side, the Texans will need No. 2 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves to improve his play. With a Pro Football Focus grade of 45.5, Hargreaves has been the target of opposing offenses. He will likely be lined up across from Kalif Raymond, who despite only having five catches on the season is a big-play threat for the Titans.
Every week, Ryan Tannehill is convincing the NFL that his breakout performance last season was not a mirage. His 82.4 QBR ranks fourth per ESPN, and he has helped guide the Titans to the sixth-highest scoring average in the league.
The Titans are at their best with wide receiver A.J. Brown on the field, which was clear based on last week’s win over Buffalo. Brown caught seven passes for 82 yards, while Tannehill threw for three touchdowns.
Jonnu Smith has also burst on the scene as an elite tight end, with a PFF grade of 85.2. Smith and Brown will have to continue their high-level play with wide receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries are on the COVID list. (Humphries is expected to return for this game, as he was activated during the week.)
While Tannehill hasn’t missed a beat from last season, the running game has — the Titans averaged the third-best yards-per-carry average last season with a mark of 5.0. This season, they rank 25th at 3.9 per carry. A matchup with the Texans, who rank 24th in yards per carry allowed and 31st in rushing yards allowed per game, might be just what the doctor ordered for Henry and Tennessee.
Defensively, the Titans’ were able to slow down a red-hot Josh Allen last week. Allen, who had been an early surprise MVP candidate, was held to a 77.6 passer rating and threw two interceptions. It further enhanced the strong reputation of the Titans’ coverage. They rank seventh in opposing passer rating and second in forced turnovers this season.
While the coverage unit has caused problems for opposing quarterbacks, the same can not be said for Tennessee’s pass rush. With five sacks on the season, the Titans are tied for the fewest in the NFL. However, this could be a get-right game for Jadeveon Clowney and Co., as the Texans have allowed 17 sacks on the season, the fifth most.
While there was reason to question the Titans when they stumbled to 3-0 to start the season, a dominating victory over the Bills showed their undefeated record is no fluke. With Tannehill operating at a high level and Henry primed for a get-right game, taking the Titans are the way to go.
PICK: Titans -3.5