Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans: Predictions and Odds (NFL Week 17)
The Green Men of WSN’s Picks and Best Bets Podcast are split, with Adam predicting the Houston Texans will win this one and Ryan taking the Tennessee Titans. My prediction for the final score is Texans 24, Titans 23.
How to Watch: Titans vs Texans
What: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
When: Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET
Where: NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas
How (TV): CBS
Titans vs Texans – Point Spread
Titans -3.5, Texans +3.5
Tennessee vs Houston – Game Preview
The NFL schedule makers have done it again with this Week 17 AFC South battle between the 8-7 Tennessee Titans, who are just barely hanging onto their projected 6th AFC playoff seed and the 10-5 Houston Texans, who have already clinched the division but wouldn’t mind edging out the Kansas City Chiefs for the 3rd seed and thereby (hopefully) getting an easier Wild Card opponent.
The Titans are on a two-game losing streak (and one of those losses came from the Texans in Week 15) while the Texans have won two-in-a-row (thanks in part to Tennessee), this revenge match is do-or-die for the Wild Card hopeful Titans.
Tennessee and Houston are closely matched on offense but one of these teams is better on defense, and that could make all the difference on Sunday, so we take a quick, side-by-side look at these two teams to see how they matchup on both sides of the ball for this final game of the regular 2019 season.
For more on week 17 check out our weekly latest video NFL Week 17 Picks & Best Bets.
The 8-7-0 Tennessee Titans
It’s not been a fun last two weeks for the 8-7 Tennessee Titans, but still, they are benefitting from the new life that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has brought them, and the hope is that they can all figure out how to take care of these pesky Texans in Houston despite the Titans shaky record on the road (4-3).
This Week 17 game is a must-win for the Titans because a victory gives them the 6th AFC playoff seed outright, which is also currently being sought by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Tennessee Titans, and the Oakland Raiders, but a loss forces them to watch the postseason from their couches.
The good news is Tennessee is fielding a better defense than the Texans are right now, but the bad news is their passing game isn’t as effective as their rushing attack, so they become that much easier for opponents to defend.
The 10-5-0 Houston Texans
Have no fear, the AFC South champion Houston Texans are “playing to win” in Week 17, says head coach Bill O’Brien, which basically means he will not be sitting his valuable stars (like Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins) for this final regular-season matchup and he understands how critical playoff seeding really is.
A win here is important for the Texans in terms of the postseason since it could shift which seed they are given which would dictate who their opponent would be in the upcoming Wild Card round, either the 5th seed Buffalo Bills or the 6th seed, which will be either the Steelers, the Titans or the Raiders.
Big news for the Houston Texans is the Xmas eve announcement that superstar defensive end J.J. Watt, who has been out since Week 8 with a torn pectoral, has been designated off injured reserve and return to practice, which means he is available for the playoffs, a big deal for this struggling Texans defense.
Titans vs Texans – History
These two AFC South rivals have met 35 total times (including no postseason games), with Tennessee winning 18 of those times and Houston winning the other 17 games.
The last time these two teams played was in Week 15 of this season when the Texans went to Tennessee and beat the Titans by a score of 24-21.
If the Titans win this matchup, they’ll move to 9-7-0 and though that won’t change their second-place position in the AFC South, it would ensure their spot in the Wild Card playoffs as the 6th AFC seed.
But if the Texans come out winners in this one, they’ll be 11-5-0 and maybe challenge the 11-4 Kansas City Chiefs for the 3rd AFC playoff seed, depending on how they do in Week 17 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Questions to Answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 17 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 briefly compare the Titans and the Texans next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive Stats Comparison
Tennessee Titans Overall Offense
- Ranked 15th overall in 2019
- Passing attack currently ranked 22nd
- Rushing attack currently ranked 6th
Since Titans head coach Mike Vrabel benched his franchise quarterback, Marcus Mariota, in Week 6, Tennessee has gone 6-3 with backup Ryan Tannehill under center, who, despite premature rumors of his early NFL demise, has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns with 6 interceptions, his completion percentage at almost 71.
The Titans offensive line can be porous – they’ve allowed the second-most sacks in the league (56) but have also created holes for the third-best rusher in the NFL, Derrick Henry, who has 271 carries for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns going into Week 17.
Injuries have become a huge factor for the Titans, especially on offense, with wide receivers Corey Davis (concussion), Adam Humphries (ankle) and Kalif Raymond (concussion) plus running back Derick Henry (hamstring) all listed as questionable for this one.
Houston Texans Overall Offense
- Ranked 11th overall in 2019
- Passing attack currently ranked 10th
- Rushing attack currently ranked 10th
The Houston Texans are ranked top-10 both through the air and on the ground, and that combined attack is led by the talented Deshaun Watson, who’s offense averages 366 total yards and over 24 points per game.
Watson is about to play healthy in his 16th game of the season for the second time since his incredible rookie year was shortened by injury, and of the 26 touchdown passes he’s thrown this year, seven of them have gone to his star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has caught 104 balls for almost 1,200 yards (so far).
The Texans offense may have to get by without two of their key players, with wide receiver Will Fuller (groin) currently listed as doubtful and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (undisclosed) listed as questionable, both game-time decisions at this point.
The Houston Texans appear to have the offensive advantage in this one, especially given the injuries that have many of the Titans listed as questionable, but if Derrick Henry can play, he could turn the tide in an instant.
Defensive Stats Comparison
Tennessee Titans Overall Defense
- Ranked 22nd overall in 2019
- Passing defense currently ranked 24th
- Rushing defense currently ranked 11th
The Titans do better against the run than the pass, which is a good thing given the Texans’ powerful two-headed rushing attack (Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde), and they allow opponents to score just over 21 points per game.
However, two of Tennessee’s secondary each have 4 interceptions (tied for 8th most in the league), free safety Kevin Byard and cornerback Logan Ryan, with 34 passes defended and 186 total tackles between them, a pair Texans quarterback Watson had best watch out for.
Again, injuries are keeping some key Titans defensive players from getting practice time in this week, with cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (foot) and defensive end Jeffrey Simmons (knee) both listed as questionable for Week 17.
Houston Texans Overall Defense
- Ranked 28th overall in 2019
- Passing defense currently ranked 30th
- Rushing defense currently ranked 20th
It’s surprising to realize that only four NFL teams have a worse defense than the AFC South champion Houston Texans, but that’s what the stats say, the team allowing opponents to gain over 383 yards and score over 23 points per game.
The Texans have 12 team interceptions (T-14th most) and 3 of those were by free safety Tashaun Gipson, who took one of those picks back 79 yards for a touchdown, also with 11 passes defended and 49 total tackles on the season.
The Texans could take an injury-hit to their defensive mid-field with linebackers Jacob Martin (knee) and Benardrick McKinney (concussion) both currently listed as questionable for Week 17.
The Tennessee Titans have the defensive advantage over the Texans at this point, but of course, injuries could change that edge depending on who can suit up for this one (see above).
Titans vs Texans – Final Game Analysis
Why Will the Titans Win this Game?
Ryan Tannehill has found a new life in Tennessee, and nothing would make him a bigger hero than he already is than a Week 17 victory over the Texans in Houston to propel the team to the playoffs, so expect him to come out with the game of his life to finish off this regular season.
For the Titans to win, they will need Derrick Henry to be at full strength, and the latest reports indicate that he is expected to be a full go against Houston, good news since Tennessee’s offense typically succeeds on his wide back.
Tennessee’s defense may get lucky if Texans’ injured receiver Will Fuller can’t suit up – it allows them to isolate against DeAndre Hopkins and show him plenty of double-coverage shutdown love, another necessary step towards a Titans victory.
Why Will the Texans Win this Game?
The Houston Texans have won their last two games (and their last four out of five) and there is no reason to believe that roll will stop in Week 17, especially facing a team they have already taken care of just a couple of weeks ago.
Deshaun Watson will have to have a big game, of course, and that happens more often when the Texans’ run game plays solid, which has come to be expected from Johnson and Hyde at this point in the season, but the Titan’s weaker passing defense will have to be exploited, especially in the later parts of the game.
The biggest key to a Texans win, though, is for their defense to play way above where they have been playing and get after Tannehill enough to force some critical mistakes and allow Houston’s offense even more time on the field.
Titans vs Texans – Who Will Win?
The Houston Texans will win this one because they have a better offense, they are at home and because J.J. Watt is back, and even if he doesn’t play (he most likely will be saved for the postseason) his returning energy will be enough to push this team towards a much-needed W.
My prediction for the final score is Texans 24, Titans 23.
Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans Game Odds