In part two of my series on the Texans post free agency comparison to their divisional opponents, we examine how Houston matches up with the Tennessee Titans. Part one examining the matchup against the Jaguars can be found here.
Texans offense vs. Titans defense
Last season, the Texans scored 54 points in two games against the Titans, including 34 with Brandon Weeden at the helm in the week 16 drubbing of the Titans in Nashville. It should be noted that it was a tale of two halves of the season in Tennessee, much like it was in Houston. The thing is, while the Texans got better as the year went on, the Titans got progressively worse. The Titans started the year with a beatdown of the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, then lost some close games against Indianapolis, Buffalo and Atlanta. During the second half of the year they struggled to stay competitive in losses to Carolina, the Jets, New England and two to Houston.
The Texans hit them hard with DeAndre Hopkins catching 15 balls for 211 yards in the two meeting combined, finding the end zone three times. Combined Houston gained over 100 yards on the ground in the second meeting but did not reach that plateau in the first meeting. Brian Hoyer started the first meeting while Weeden started the second one, each throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions.
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The Titans added Rashad Johnson from the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, taking over for Michael Griffin, who was released after almost a decade with the team. Johnson had nine interceptions over the last two season for the Cardinals, and will be an upgrade over the aging Griffin. This unit was surprisingly good under Dick LeBeau last season in his first year as defensive coordinator in Tennessee. The Titans were 12th in yards allowed, seventh in passing yards allowed at under 230 per game but 18th in rushing yards allowed despite being eighth in yards per carry allowed. Basically, the Titans were behind a lot and opponents didn’t throw the ball on them much. But overall it was a solid defense.
It does bear mentioning that they were 27th in the league in points allowed at 26.4, but part of that was due to the fact they were tied for the most turnovers in the league and only produced 19 themselves. That number should not be pinned solely on the defense. Their -14 turnover differential was tied for the second worst in the league. Part of the problem with the Titans is they don’t have a great pass rusher. Brian Orakpo and Jurrell Casey tied for the team lead in sacks with seven. Jason McCourty and Avery Williamson are also good players, and LeBeau makes them play better than they are.
Overall while there is talent on the Titans defense, I still give the edge here to the Texans. Brock Osweiler will hopefully start all 16 games and allow the offense some continuity while Lamar Miller will give the Texans a consistent running attack. Miller ran for 113 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown in Miami’s romp in Nashville last year.