HOUSTON VS TENNESSEE PREVIEW By Brad Lorkovic (LORK 88) Last week was a new record for Houston, the 1st time that weve ever won back to back home games. Not only that, we destroyed the Jaguars and destroyed the pessimism (for the most part). Now we face the Tennessee Titans, a team at the bottom of our division that shouldnt be underestimated. Bud Adams is out to destroy Houston, so it wouldnt come as a surprise if they made this their big game of the year. At this point, I see it being a game of momentum. Who has more momentum: Houston after Battle Red Day or Tennessee coming off their 1st win and bye week? Houstons Running Game vs. Tennessees Run D: Again like always, weve got to be able to run the ball. Lundy came off the bench last week and was able to provide us a much needed spark for our running game that most wouldve considered dead. Gado and Lundy both need to be able to run the ball consistently. Tennessee has been thrashed in the running game by good rushing teams (LT and Michael Turner combined for 209 yards rushing), so I dont think its uncalled for to expect 125 from our running game. As for Tennessee, their tacklers and run stoppers are mostly their LBs Bullocks, Thornton, and Sirmon which means 2 things: Their Defensive Line isnt doing their job as well and runners are able to get to the second level. The loss of Haynesworth has left a big hole in the middle so far, and their DEs LaBoy and Vanden Bosch are better served as pass rushers (LaBoy is questionable as well). Overall, I could see it being a decent game against the run as long as our O Line plays possessed like it did last week. Houstons Passing Game vs. Tennessees Pass D: This has been our best form of offense week in and week out, and I dont see this changing this week. Pac Man has been improving as a CB, but thats not saying too much after a dismal rookie year. Opposite him is Reynaldo Hill who took advantage of being underestimated last year, but has been playing poorly thus far. At Safety, Chris Hope is back there along with Lamont Thompson. Hope is playing great, being 2nd on the team in tackles and having 2 INTs (against Manning and Bledsoe). Thompson on the other hand is a big question mark. Some of the time he looks solid back there, other times he looks lost. In terms of pass rush, its not what it was last year. Vanden Bosch still gets pressure, but the loss of Haynesworth in the middle isnt the same. With a weaker secondary than were used to playing, I can see AJ and Moulds playing a big factor in this game. TEs will also help out as safety valves if Tennessee gets pressure or blitzes too much. Should be an interesting battle, but as long as Carr can stay upright, this will be what separates us in this game. Tennessees Rushing Game vs. Houstons Run D: This will be the biggest challenge of the game. Starting the season, Tennessee had RB question in terms of who to start, but after their most recent game against Washington, Travis Henry had a career day rushing for 178 yards and separating himself from the pack. In fact, the past 2 games, Tennessee has rushed for over 170 in each of them. This to mean screams out shut down the run! We on the other hand still need to play the run better. Mario has been a big help as hes been more effective getting penetration on run plays, but the middle needs to come up big this game. Its our biggest weakness and Tennessee will look to expose it. Our LBs will have to do a good job of stopping anything from getting past them and need to plug holes fast. If we can shut down Henry to under 100 yards or any long runs, well be in good shape. Tennessees Passing Game vs. Houstons Pass D: Simply put, our pass D is horrible. However, this week I feel we have a real solid chance of doing well against an unproven Vince Young. So far this season, hes had 1 game where his rating over 70. He has decent targets at receiver (Givens and Bennett) and especially at TE (Troupe), but he has had trouble finding them. His completion percentage is under 50 as well. The problem has been making Vince force bad decisions. Whether its fumbles or bad throws, its been the biggest downfall of Tennessee this season. On our part, it will require pressure up front and effective blitzes. Mario has been improving steadily in the pass rush as has Ryans, but it will require other like Peek and the DTs to get involved as well. In terms of coverage, Faggins returned and came up with a big play forcing a fumble last week. Robinson has been decent but is still satisfied with his play which isnt what it was his rookie year. Our safeties have been decent in run support, but still struggle with deep passes. If we can get pressure up front and force bad decisions, consider this one game we could come out on top in our weak spot. Position Battle QB Advantage: HOUSTON RB Advantage: TENNESSEE WR Advantage: HOUSTON TE Advantage: TENNESSEE OL Advantage: TENNESSEE DE Advantage: HOUSTON DT Advantage: TENNESSEE LB Advantage: TENNESSEE CB Advantage: PUSH S Advantage: TENNESSEE K/P Advantage: HOUSTON RET Advantage: PUSH Key Factors To The Game 1) Force bad decision on behalf of Vince Young. Lets face it, Vince isnt a great passer. Less than 50% completion, more INTs than TDs, I could go on and on. However, you give any QB enough time and even they can find someone open. Therefore, I say we keep Vince confused all day. Zone blitzes, stunts, max cover 2, anything to throw him off we need to do. Just a heads up, hes 0-3 when he turns the ball over twice or more. 2) Run effectively. Oh yes, its back like Lundys running game! Last week we had a huge spark from him and had over 125 yards rushing for the first time in it seems like forever. Last week when we ran effectively, we were able to control the clock, have longer drives, and keep our defense off the field. The result? We destroy Jacksonville. Tennessee has been known to give up big running days to RBs so I say we go straight at them to balance out our offense and keep them guessing all game. 3) Travis Johnson, Anthony Weaver Im calling you out this weekend! We need our play in the middle to be big. Its been a big hole on defense in terms of pass rush and run stopping. My opinion is that if we can stop them in the middle or at least slow them down, it can allow our other defensive playmakers to do what they do best. If we get a big game from these 2 DTs, I can see it being a good game in our favor.