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Old 10-22-2011   #1
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Default Fight for First

NFL Network
Tale of the Tape: Texans, Titans fight for South

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With the monotony of Indianapolis’ annual contention for the AFC South stifled by Peyton Manning’s injury, Houston and Tennessee will battle for the division lead Sunday as we approach the season’s midpoint. This is an intriguing matchup with many elements to define – the teams are glaringly similar yet play different styles.

Statistically, these teams are very similar. The Titans have a slight edge defensively, ranking No. 9 in overall defense, one slot ahead of the Texans. The Titans are No. 12 in pass defense, also edging Wade Phillips’ defensive unit by one spot. The Titans rank No. 10 in run defense while the Texans are No. 13.

The scale balances a bit more on the offensive side of the ball. The Texans holds the edge in two of the three main offensive categories, ranking No. 8 in total offense (the Titans are 19th) and No. 7 in rushing offense (Titans are No. 32). Interestingly enough, the Titans have the better passing offense, ranked No. 9, two spots ahead of the Texans.

Texans’ offense vs. Titans’ defense

Houston is a big-play offense on the ground and through the air. They design downfield throws off of their run game and are a rare offense that can pass efficiently with run personnel on the field. Tennessee’s defense is tough up front with sound linebackers that fill and spill adequately. Their front seven is disciplined and plays well together. The edge players of the Titans will dictate the game against the Texans’ zone-stretch scheme.

Running game

Houston isn’t ranked in the top 10 in rushing for no reason. Titans LB Akeem Ayers (who often walks down to the line of scrimmage) and the defensive ends must control their points. Ayers seems to struggle more often off the line and in space, which could be costly against the Texans’ athletic linemen. Houston’s front will be challenged during early downs by DTs Shaun Smith and Jurrell Casey. Smith does not allow much offensive push and is always conscious to grab releasing linemen to protecting the linebackers. Casey, a rookie third-round pick, has provided stout run defense at the 3-technique position.

The Texans have one of the best offensive line units that a running back could wish for. They are athletic and they block well in space. Having TEs James Casey, Owen Daniels and Joel Dressen — all great route runners and receivers who provide sufficient one-on-one blockers on the edge – also helps. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are two big backs trained to come downhill and not waste steps through the line of scrimmage. If the Titans can force Foster and Tate to stop and start in the backfield through penetration and the discipline they’ve shown on tape, it could force the Texans to abandon their greatest strength early.

Passing game

The Titans are a responsible defensive unit that works well together. They know and trust that everyone is where they are supposed to be. While Texans QB Matt Schaub is the most blitzed quarterback in the league, the Titans do not blitz much. Look for CB Cortland Finnegan, who has been a force in the run defense and defending routes from the slot and tight end position, to play in the box.

The Titans face an obscure challenge against the Texans’ passing attack and will have to play the personnel battle correctly. Without WR Andre Johnson, the Texans will throw out of their two-back, two-tight end packages. This could leave the defense with slower personnel if the Texans decide to pass on earlier downs. They are well aware defenses gear up to stop the run and use run action through personnel mismatches to take shots down the field.

Titans’ offense vs. Texans’ defense

Matt Hasselback is the best thing to happen to the Titans this season. The Titans have not had a decisive quarterback who gets the ball out on time consistently and the aspect of game management has been upgraded astronomically. His ability to protect the football (4INTs and 7 sacks allowed) keeps the Titans in every game. Hasselbeck leads in the league in passer rating in the red zone with at an astounding 123.9 (7 TDs, 0 INTs).

Houston’s pass rush has taken a major hit without injured LB Mario Williams and is now asking a collection of younger players to generate pressure. Behind this pressure is a group of players with below average man to man coverage skills and a lot of soft zone concepts. Hasselback‘s presnap intellect and ability to get the ball to the correct receiver should take advantage of this secondary.

Running game

This is an intriguing battle, as both teams’ biggest weaknesses are in this department. Though the Titans rank last in the NFL with 66 yards rushing per game, this is the week to prove that ranking wrong. The Texans are active and physical up front but they do not tip the scale. They are built to rush the passer. Their linebackers take on blocks but stay latched, and the secondary doesn’t tackle well given their deep pre-snap alignments. Titans RB Chris Johnson will have chances to get to the second level this week.

Passing game

The Texans blitz more than all but one other team, but Hasselbeck is often successful because of his ability to recognize defensive alignments before the snap. He is oblivious to pressure and beats it often by getting the ball out quickly and taking smart shots down the field. He beats defenses mentally by correctly identifying their calls and being ready to throw at the top of his drop. He takes what the defense gives him.

The Titans have completed eight passing plays of 25 or more yards on first down, four of which were 50-plus yard gains. It is safe to say they will take a few designed shots on early downs.

Something that we noticed on film this season is how the Texans like to play Cover-3 against closed formations, where the widest eligible receiver is on the line of scrimmage next to the tackle. The Titans will design downfield throws off of this set, knowing they will get this look.

Outlook

This matchup will also give a clear picture on what to expect out of the rematch in Week 17, when the AFC South could be riding on the outcome. Let it be known, the Titans’ defense has not given up a rushing touchdown since the opening drive of the season. The Texans have only three rushing touchdowns. The Texans will have to lean on their ground attack to set the tone for the offense. This matchup looks like a case where an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object. Something is going to have to give.

We believe the Titans have enough defense to keep their offense out of bad situations. History has proven that Hasselback’s teams always has a chance as long as his defense gives him one. Tennessee wins a close game on paper, but we’ll see how it plays out.
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Old 10-22-2011   #2
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Default Re: Fight for First

Everything feels like a Texans loss. I hope I'm wrong.
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Old 10-22-2011   #3
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Default Re: Fight for First

We will be skipping this one as I will be racing. We are at Texas World Speedway for the final races of the season. Be the first game we missed outright in a long time. It'll be recorded although I don't think I will miss too much. I'm not feeling this one.
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Old 10-23-2011   #4
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Default Re: Fight for First

Quote:
Originally Posted by DexmanC View Post
Everything feels like a Texans loss. I hope I'm wrong.
Unfortunately, I agree. I hope I'm wrong. If the Texans lose this one, our playoff hopes (again) go down the tubes.
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Old 10-23-2011   #5
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Default Re: Fight for First

Titans suck.
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Old 10-23-2011   #6
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Default Re: Fight for First

Well, if the game goes to shit, Rugby's on.
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For being the most intelligent form of life on our planet, we sure do some incredibly stupid things.
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Old 10-23-2011   #7
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Default Re: Fight for First

I'm feeling pretty hopeful.

These guys don't have the talent of a Saints or Ravens.
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Old 10-23-2011   #8
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Default Re: Fight for First

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Originally Posted by TEXANS4MARIO View Post
Titans suck.
x2
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Old 10-23-2011   #9
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Default Re: Fight for First

We have our secret weapon, Jacoby Jones, so i'm not the least bit concerned about this game.
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Old 10-23-2011   #10
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Default Re: Fight for First

Lets ****** this titans up !!!!!!!!!

Go texans!!!
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Old 10-23-2011   #11
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Default Re: Fight for First

Quote:
Originally Posted by disaacks3 View Post
If the Texans lose this one, our playoff hopes (again) go down the tubes.
Why do you say this?

We still haven't reached the halfway mark & there is still a lot of football to go. If we don't lose another division game (sweep the jags & colts) we can still win the South.

We can still win 10 games & Beating Tennessee at home (Jan 1) will give us the tie breaker.
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Old 10-23-2011   #12
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Default Re: Fight for First

A rare time I'm glad that someone actually quoted the stylings of DexC. LMFAO.

As if there was ANY DOUBT he had that feeling about this game.

L M F A O
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Old 10-23-2011   #13
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Default Re: Fight for First

Add me to the crowd that has bad feelings about this game. But I'm hoping our defense steps up and crushes the Titans offense. Unless that happens, I just don't have the confidence in our offense the way I used to.
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Old 10-23-2011   #14
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Default Re: Fight for First

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorn View Post
Add me to the crowd that has bad feelings about this game. But I'm hoping our defense steps up and crushes the Titans offense. Unless that happens, I just don't have the confidence in our offense the way I used to.
That offense hasnt played a "whole game" to the best of their ability yet .... I just dont get it. Hell , I dont think they have played a half to the best of their ability thus far ....

I wonder if teams have figured them out .... or are they just complacent since the entire starting offense (outside of Leach) is back this year. (That makes it all the more puzzling).

I read somewhere (forget where) that Schaub is the most blitzed QB in the NFL ..... I dont know if that should be taken as praise or as .... an insult.

I wish Schaub took it as an insult and did everything he could to retaliate.
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Old 10-23-2011   #15
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Default Re: Fight for First

Shaub drops back in the pocket, looks downfield, shits himself , goes fetal, and he is ................touched down!
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Old 10-23-2011   #16
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Default Re: Fight for First

Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderkyss View Post
Why do you say this?

We still haven't reached the halfway mark & there is still a lot of football to go. If we don't lose another division game (sweep the jags & colts) we can still win the South.

We can still win 10 games & Beating Tennessee at home (Jan 1) will give us the tie breaker.
This is not a "must win". It's a very important game, the most important of the season so far, but it's not a must game because over half of the season remains after todays game and too much can happen between now and the end of the season.
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Old 10-23-2011   #17
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Default Re: Fight for First

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrosion View Post
That offense hasnt played a "whole game" to the best of their ability yet .... I just dont get it. Hell , I dont think they have played a half to the best of their ability thus far ....

I wonder if teams have figured them out .... or are they just complacent since the entire starting offense (outside of Leach) is back this year. (That makes it all the more puzzling).

I read somewhere (forget where) that Schaub is the most blitzed QB in the NFL ..... I dont know if that should be taken as praise or as .... an insult.

I wish Schaub took it as an insult and did everything he could to retaliate.
You read it in the initial thread post:
Quote:
Passing game

The Titans are a responsible defensive unit that works well together. They know and trust that everyone is where they are supposed to be. While Texans QB Matt Schaub is the most blitzed quarterback in the league, the Titans do not blitz much.
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Old 10-23-2011   #18
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Default Re: Fight for First

Every game this year I hope will be the one where they step up and just completely destroy a "good team", means Indy doesnt count.

This week maybe??
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Old 10-23-2011   #19
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Default Re: Fight for First

Somehow, this thread / post I submitted was accidentally relegated to the ARCHIVES section??????????.....so I'll repost it.

Quote:
This game may not be the cake walk some think it should be.

Quote:
1. Try the run. After a week off, it's now or never in regards to Chris Johnson. Chris Palmer will get him some major work early on to kick his tires. On Sunday, the Texans gave up over 100 yards to Ray Rice and have been giving up an average of 132 yards a game all season, fifth most in the NFL. I'll go ahead and say it: If Chris Johnson doesn't have a good week this week, I don't think he will have a good week all season. The fact is, if this team is going to get anywhere this year, they can't have the worst run game in the league. I would love to see some more from Jamie Harper in the second half if CJ isn't going anywhere.We're [Titans] the worst rushing team in the league with CJ running, so what's to lose?

2. Watch the run. Let's be honest. Matt Schaub's great and all, but Andre Johnson was the heart of the Texans' receiving game. Their two top receivers now are Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter. Hardly great. Schaub gets rolling when the run game is working, so the focus for Jerry Gray's defense has to be to shut down the run game. Arian Foster has been dinged up for most of the year, but when he gets rolling he can be very dangerous. Houston is ranked 20th in yards per carry, averaging just 4.0 yards, but still running the ball 187 times all season, second in the league only to the Raiders. The Titans have the NFL's 10th-ranked run defense, and opposing backs, including Ray Rice, Peyton Hillis, and Maurice Jones-Drew, are averaging just 3.8 yards a carry.

3. Keep Hasselbeck up.
The Titans offensive line has been superb to this point in regards to giving Matt Hasselbeck his time, with a league-low seven sacks allowed and only 11.6% of pass attempts under duress. This week will probably present the tough challenge yet, as Wade Phillips has been relentless getting after the QB. Houston's defensive line is very underrated, even with Mario William out.
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Old 10-23-2011   #20
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Default Re: Fight for First

Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderkyss View Post
Why do you say this?

We still haven't reached the halfway mark & there is still a lot of football to go. If we don't lose another division game (sweep the jags & colts) we can still win the South.

We can still win 10 games & Beating Tennessee at home (Jan 1) will give us the tie breaker.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimBaker488 View Post
This is not a "must win". It's a very important game, the most important of the season so far, but it's not a must game because over half of the season remains after todays game and too much can happen between now and the end of the season.
No, the Texans don't HAVE to win this one, but they will require assistance down the road if they don't. How's that worked so far?

I'm trying to hang on to the "These aren't the Saints, Raiders or Ravens" argument. True, but we had AJ & Mario for two of those three and still lost.
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