NFL Picks and Predictions: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

Clowney and Watt are ready to eat some Mettenbergers this Sunday.
Clowney and Watt are ready to eat some Mettenbergers this Sunday.

Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
Spread: HOU -4
Total: 42.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

Tennessee started with an impressive Week 1 win over Tampa Bay, and most Titans fans seemed to believe Marcus Mariota was on the verge of transforming the culture in Nashville.

Five weeks later, fans are still hoping for that second win. The Titans travel to Houston to face the Texans as 4-point underdogs in the game which will air at Noon (ET) on CBS.

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The Texans have hardly had things go well in their own right though: The team just lost Arian Foster for the rest of the season and had to cut its backup QB for missing a flight. Houston should be able to bounce back this week, but the Titans are craving some type of success in its own right. The Titans have lost 15 of its last 16 games and fell 10-7 to the Falcons last weekend.

Houston fared even worse, losing 44-26 to the Miami Dolphins and never really had a chance in the game, either.

Houston fell behind 21-0 after the first quarter and was down 41-0 at the half. Foster was lost on the final drive of the game with a torn Achilles tendon. T Duane Brown said of the injury, “It’s devastating just because I know how much he puts into this…howe much work he puts in to be great, to be healthy and to stay on the field…To have this happen, I’m really hurting for him.”

It was Ryan Mallett who was cut for missing the flight, and his replacement is T.J. Yates who spent three seasons with the Texans. He was cut by the Falcons prior to the start of this season. J.J. Watt simply said of it, “We’re moving on.”

Watt sat out practice with a back issue but is expected to play and LB Jadeveon Clowney is questionable with an illness.

The Titans will be without its No. 2 overall pick Mariota who is sitting his second straight with a sprained left knee. Zach Mettenberger will start again though Mariota is nearing his return. Of Mariota HC Ken Whisenhunt said “He’s made a lot of progress this week, I think he is close but we’re not going to play him this week…I think physically he’s probably right on the line of being ready to go.”

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Mettenberger was rather horrible in last week’s start, going 22 of 35 for 187 yards with one TD and two picks. It was the Titans third loss by three points or less, but that theme is getting more than a bit stale as a silver lining for Titans fans. Mettenberger has yet to win an NFL game as a starter in seven tries, and he started for the Titans when the team got trounced by the Texans 45-21 last year on Nov 30.

Houston has won five of the past six meetings between the teams and three straight home contests. It won 30-16 at Tennessee on Oct 26, and Foster ran for 151 yards and two TDs. Houston will look to Alfred Blue to usurp Foster’s production, and he started the first three games this season while Foster was out with a groin injury. He had 48 yards on 14 carries in the first two games, but ran for 139 yards and a TD in the 19-9 win over Tampa Bay on Sept 27.

The Titans have one of the league’s worst rush defenses (allows 129.2 yards per game), but Tennessee has done well defensively aside from that issue.

The Titans rank No. 5 in total defense and No. 2 in pass defense. Even so, Tennessee has given up 23.2 points per game which ranks it middle of the road, and the offense is poor enough that none of it has mattered much. Tennessee is scoring just 19.8 points per game this season.

Houston’s defense allows 28.4 points per game and 370.9 yards. This could be a game that Tennessee is able to pull a slight upset in, but given that Mariota is out and Mettenberger is just so irredeemably bad, it seems like a risky proposition to M/L bet on the Titans.

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