Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

For this Week 12 Monday Night Football matchup, it’s an AFC South battle between the first place Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans, a team tied for second and just two games behind the Texans, all on November 26 at 8:15 pm at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX, broadcasted by ESPN.

The 5-5 Tennessee Titans:

After their Week 8 bye, the 5-5 Tennessee Titans have won the last two-out-of-three, but they’re coming off a big 10-38 loss at the hands of their AFC South divisional rivals, the Indianapolis Colts.

Making matters more challenging is the elbow injury that Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered just before the end of the first half against the Colts, forcing backup Blaine Gabbert to enter the game, throwing 11-for-16 for 118 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a loss.

The Titans are 2-4 on the road and 2-1 against divisional rivals, but with their quarterback listed as questionable, they end up being the underdog by almost a touchdown.

The 7-3 Houston Texans:

The 7-3 Houston Texans are coming off an impressive 23-21 road win over the Washington Redskins, avoiding a last second defeat when Redskins placekicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 62-yard field goal attempt by about five yards.

Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson is healed from the torn ACL that kept him limited to 7 games during his All-Rookie season, and has thrown for 2,597 yards and 18 touchdowns with 9 interceptions and has led the Texans to seven victories in a row.

The Texans are 3-1 at home and 2-1 against divisional rivals, and as this is at home against a Tennessee team with an injured starting quarterback, the Texans are the surer bet in this one.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 33 times, with Houston winning 15 games and Tennessee winning 18 games. The Titans have won the last two match-ups, both games were played in Tennessee, the most recent one this season in Week 2.

If the Titans win this matchup, their record will be 6-5 and they’ll move to just one game behind the Texans in the AFC South.

But if the Texans come out on top, they’ll be 8-3 and with at least a 2-game lead over the Indianapolis Colts remain atop the AFC South.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Week 12 Titans-Texans matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Titans and the Texans and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Titans offense questionable

The injured Mariota is not having his best season, having thrown for just 1,583 yards for 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Mariota’s passing attack is ranked 30th in the NFL after averaging just 183.7 yards through the air per game.

If Mariota’s injured elbow forces Gabbert to play in Week 12, he’ll have receivers Corey Davis and Tajae Sharpe and tight end Jonnu Smith as targets, but only having had a week to work together might mean their chemistry won’t be up to speed.

Titans rushing attack just average

Tennessee’s running game is ranked right in the middle of the league at 15th after averaging 111.7 yards on the ground per game.

Running back Derrick Henry has rushed 110 times for 404 yards and 4 touchdowns while catching 8 balls for 54 yards.

Henry’s backup is Dion Lewis, acquired in the offseason, who’s rushed 122 times for 420 yards and a touchdown while also catching 36 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown.

Tennessee offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 12 are wide receiver Taywan Taylor (foot), running back David Fluellen (knee) and quarterback Marcus Mariota (elbow stinger).

The 2018 Texans offense winning games

The Houston Texans’ offense scores 23.9 points and moves the ball a total of 364.2 yards per game, enough to keep the team undefeated since the last week of September.

Quarterback Watson has 18 touchdowns but is tied for 9th most interceptions thrown with 9 of them, and only two other quarterbacks in the league have been sacked more than his 33 times, not good for someone with a healed knee injury.

Fun to watch is All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has the eighth most receiving yards in the NFL with 950, a deep threat whose longest catch was a 49-yard touchdown, bringing his total to 8 touchdowns in 2018.

Houston’s run game ranked 11th

Veteran running back Lamar Miller is in his third year with the Texans and has rushed 145 times for 611 yards and 2 touchdowns this season while catching 16 balls for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Fifth-year running back Alfred Blue has run 102 times for 343 yards and a touchdown, as well as caught 11-for-15 for 94 yards.

The Texans average 122.1 yards on the ground per game, and they face a Titans defense that only allows 100.0 yards per game, let the battle begin.

Houston offensive Injuries

Guards Senio Kelemete (ankle) and Zach Fulton (shoulder) are both listed as questionable for Week 12.

Titans Defense ranks 9th in the league

Despite their 5-5 record, Tennessee has a top-ten defense that only allows opponents to score 18.9 points per game (only the Raven allow less) and gain an average of 334.9 total yards of offense.

The Titans are ranked 9th against passing and 11th against the run, while intercepting a total of 6 balls and sacking quarterbacks 23 times, both T-23rd best in a league of 32.

Tennessee is T-7th most forced fumble with 10.

Titans Defensive Players to watch:

Defensive end Wesley Woodyard has 65 combined tackles (37th most in the NFL) and has 3.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hits and a pass defended.

Inside linebacker Jayon Brown has 4.5 sacks, 61 combined tackles (7 for loss), 6 quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

Free safety Kevin Byard and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson both have 2 interceptions apiece.

Texans Defense is 7th overall

Houston has a strong defense that allows opponents to score 20.5 points (ranked 6th) and gain 330.5 yards per game (ranked 7th), their passing defense ranked 8th while their run defense is 7th best in the NFL.

The Texan defense has snagged 9 interceptions (T-17th most) and has sacked 28 quarterbacks (T-10th most) and they’re T-18th most forced fumbles with 8.

Texans Defensive Players to watch:

Inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney has 70 combined tackles (27th most in the league) with 1.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, 2 passes defended and a forced fumble.

When defensive end J.J. Watt is healthy (and he currently is), he’s fun to watch – so far with 10 sacks, 36 combined tackles (12 for loss), 17 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles and 2 passes defended.

The Texans’ two strong safeties are dangerous in the secondary - Justin Reid has 3 interceptions and Kareem Jackson has 2.

Houston defensive injuries may be a factor

Linebackers Zach Cunningham (knee-MCL) and Duke Ejiofor (shoulder) as well as cornerback Aaron Colvin (ankle) are all listed as questionable for Week 12.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Tennessee’s veteran punter, Brett Kern, was Second-team All Pro last season and has punted 45 times for a net average of 41.0 yards per punt, ranked 9th in the NFL.

Houston’s punter, Trevor Daniel, an undrafted free agent this offseason, has punted 44 times for a net average of 39.5 yards per punt, ranked 16th in the NFL.

Placekickers:

Tennessee’s placekicker, Ryan Succop, was acquired in 2009 from the Chiefs and so far he is 18-for-21, his longest was a 54-yarder.

Succop hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (16/16).

Houston’s placekicker, Ka’imi Fairbairn, in his third season with the Texans, has gone 22-for-27, his longest was a 54-yarder.

Fairbairn has missed one extra point attempt (23/24).

Punt Returners:

Tennessee’s punt returner, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, is ranked 22nd in the league in return average.

Jackson has returned 9 punts for 87 yards and a touchdown, averaging 9.7 yards per return, his longest was for 26 yards.

Houston’s punt returner, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, was picked up on waivers from Philadelphia in November.

He’s replacing running back Tyler Ervin, who was ranked 29th in the league in return average after returning 21 punts for 175 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 8.3 yards per return, his longest for 27 yards.

So far, Carter has only returned 1 punt for 16 yards, averaging 16.0 yards per return, his longest for 16 yards.

Titans–Texans prediction and odds

The oddsmakers have the Texans favored over the Titans by 6 with an over/under of 41.5.

CBSSports.com has this final score prediction:

John Breech takes the under and predicts it Texans 20, Titans 17

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