HOUSTON VS TENNESSEE PREVIEW By Brad Lorkovic (LORK 88) To say last week was rough would be a vast and overwhelming understatement. It was one of those games in which everything went wrong, and we couldnt seem to catch a break. However, theres no real point to dwelling on the past, so its time to focus on this upcoming weeks game where we welcome back the Titans and Vince Young to Houston. Whether he plays has yet to be announced, but regardless this game will be big for both teams. We want to come to play after the last time they came to town last season, and they want to defeat the city that used to have the Oilers. It should be interesting for both sides, but who wants it more? Houstons Running Game vs. Tennessees Run D: This will be our biggest challenge, but for different reasons than the typical Ron Dayne sucks. The main reason is that Tennessees run defense is ranked first in the NFL, only allowing an average of 63.8 yards per game. It all starts up front for them with Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch. Haynesworth unfortunately gets more press for the incident he was involved in last year, but has been a beast in the middle this season. He has been good at eating up blocks this season. Vanden Bosch isnt as gifted in terms of size, but has an amazing tenacity and a motor that never stops. At the other DT and DE spots are Antwan Odom and Tony Brown. Odom is more known for his strength while Brown is more on the athletic size (he returned a fumble against us for a TD). Behind the D Line sits on of the most underrated LBs in the NFL in Keith Bullock. He is a tackling machine and has been one of the best in the NFL for the past few years. At the other outside spot is David Thornton, whose athletic ability lets him fly all over the field. Inside is Ryan Fowler, a FA pickup from Dallas. Unfortunately, I dont know too much about him because I figured Stephen Tulloch would be the starter after a solid rookie season. For us, we need to be patient and make sure we sustain our blocks. Our running game hasnt been the same since Green went down with an injury, but we need it to set up the pass. Haynesworth can cause havoc, so we need to make sure to double down on him and go off tackle. We can have a decent game running the ball if we want to, but we need to be patient and give it time. Houstons Passing Game vs. Tennessees Pass D: Tennessees passing defense is interesting, and I say that because they dont have any real big names after losing Pac Man, but seem to get the job done well enough. The starting CBs are Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper. Finnegan was a 7th round pick in 2006, and he is one of those players that always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Harper is the former Colt from last year who has held his own this season. Rookie Griffin and Reynaldo Hill will be the backups who will see time in nickel and dime packages. Hill was actually the starter last year, but did a poor job which is why hes on the bench. Also keep an eye on both LBs Thornton and Bullocks. Both use their athletic ability in coverage and they will make it challenging for Daniels this week. As far as the pass rush goes, Vanden Bosch will be the biggest challenge. He never gives up on a play and is tenacious in getting to the QB. Haynesworth and Brown can also get pressure in the middle if we neglect them. This is the part of the game where I think we can be most successful, mostly for the fact that not many teams have stopped our passing game. Davis and Walter will be the starters, and both have proven they deserve to. Jacoby will be back at full strength and will most likely be a key backup along with David Anderson. Daniels will have a challenging time with Bullocks and Thornton, but should be able to get some looks. Overall, if we get the time to throw, I have no doubt in my mind that we can move the ball like we have. Tennessees Rushing Game vs. Houstons Run D: This will be our biggest challenge for us in the game, especially after our struggles last week. For Tennessee, it all starts up front with the O line, lead by Kevin Mawae. They are a big physical group thats the exact same from last year, and it shows. The only problem that they have on the O Line is depth. They lead the way for a running game lead by White and Brown. White and Brown are similar in size and style, but both have their differences. Brown is a more north-south runner who loves using his strength to break tackles and run people over. However, its gotten him in trouble in the past as hes been injured because of it. White is a slower, more patient runner who tends to let holes open up. The only downside is that he doesnt use his size like Brown does. The FB will be Ahmard Hall, who is a former marine who Tennessee picked up during the supplemental draft. Hall has good size, and uses it to be a physical blocker. The key thing for us will be to stay strong up front and not give them running lanes. These two RBs tend to get most of their yardage up the middle and off tackle, so we need to focus on that. Neither are a serious threat to beat us with their speed, but both can wear us down in the middle. I expect Ryans to have a big day trying to contain the big run. Tennessees Passing Game vs. Houstons Pass D: The big question here will obviously be who is at QB for Tennessee? If its Vince, we need to keep outside contain and force him to beat us with his arm. He has had trouble passing this season when teams have made him 1 dimensional and we need to do the same. If its Collins, we need to get pressure on him and force him to make bad decisions. He has a big arm, but his accuracy tends to get iffy the more you force him to make throws. At WR, Brandon Jones is out so it will be up to Moulds, Justin Gage, and Roydell Williams. We all know about Moulds since he was here last year, and he still brings his possession WR skills to Tennessee. Gage and Roydell have stepped up as the backups and both have flashed some potential to be big time WRs. Gage has great size while Williams is a little quicker. At TE is Bo Scaife and Ben Troupe. Scaife worked hard to earn the starting spot and has great hands. He does a great job finding a way to get open. Troupe is a huge mismatch with his size and speed, but cant seem to stay healthy which is his ultimate downfall. As far as how we match up, Dunta shouldnt have a problem going against Moulds, as he saw him in practice every day last year. Faggins might struggle with the size of Gage, which is why I would prefer Bennett to get more time. The key for us will be getting pressure and rattling whoever is the QB. If we can force bad throws and get them to make mistakes, well be in good shape. Position Battle QB Advantage: HOUSTON RB Advantage: TENNESSEE WR Advantage: HOUSTON TE Advantage: HOUSTON OL Advantage: TENNESSEE DL Advantage: HOUSTON LB Advantage: TENNESSEE CB Advantage: PUSH S Advantage: TENNESSEE K/P Advantage: HOUSTON RET Advantage: HOUSTON Key Factors To The Game 1) Stop the run. Why you ask? Its because Tennessee is ranked 6th in the run as opposed to 30th in the passing. In other words, they thrive off the running game. It helps them control the clock and more importantly the game. If we could stop the run (and that includes Vinces scrambling if he plays and if his hamstring doesnt stop him from running instead of us), we can force Tennessee to rely on something that Im sure they would prefer not to. 2) Intensity. You know that Bud Adams and Vince Young want to win this game, not to mention all of the Titans are going to be intense and come out firing because of the intense rivalry. We need to do the same, especially after what happened last time they came in town, not to mention the game last week. This is a redemption game and a rivalry game, and we need to treat it as such!! 3) Finish drives. Last week, we got in the red zone often and moved the ball easily, but we didnt finish that often. Weve got to find a way to get points out of every drive no matter what. Brown is making all of his field goals which is a huge surprise, but that wont win us the game. We either need to focus more on play action passes in the red zone or find a way to get our RBs in there.