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Six Things to Watch

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Six Things to Watch for the Titans on Sunday vs the Texans


NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Houston Texans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Here's a look at six things to watch in the contest:

8th start for Will Levis

Will Levis has thrown for 1,593 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions in his first seven starts this season. The Titans rookie quarterback seems to be growing up right before our very eyes, showing some moxie – and toughness – along the way. Levis has five touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 99.6 rating in three home starts. He'll face a Texans defense on Sunday that's ranked 26th in the NFL in passing defense, allowing 246.9 yards per game.

DeAndre Hopkins vs Former Team

DeAndre Hopkins has been the go-to guy for Levis and the Tennessee offense, and he's sure to have some extra juice on Sunday against the Texans, a team he played with from 2013-2019. Hopkins has played against the Texans one previously in his career, in Week 7 of the 2021 season while with the Cardinals – Hopkins had seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown in that contest. Hopkins has accounted for 54.5 percent (6 of 11) of the Titans' receiving TDs in 2023, and all six of his touchdowns have come since Levis took over in Week 8.

King Henry and Tyjae Spears

Titans running back Derrick Henry has 875 rush yards (3rd-most in NFL) and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2023, and he's been beastly against the Texans in his career. Henry has had 200-plus rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a game vs the Texans four times in his career. No other player in NFL history has more than two games with 200-plus rush yards vs a single opponent in their career. Let's not forget about rookie Tyjae Spears here, too, as he's coming off a career-high 118 scrimmage yards last week. Running against the Texans has been tougher than years past, however – the Texans have allowed just 95.6 rush YPG in 2023 (8th-fewest in NFL) after ranking 31st or last in the NFL in run defense every season from 2020-2022.

Defense, Defense, Defense

The Titans were relentless on defense on Monday night, stifling the high-flying Dolphins while playing with an edge, and with physicality. The Titans will still be without defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, and they're banged up on defense. The Texans are banged up on offense, and Case Keenum and Davis Mills are in line to start at quarterback in place of rookie C.J. Stroud, who has missed practices this week due to a concussion. The Texans could look to run it more on Sunday with backs Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce, so the run defense needs to be stout.

Honoring Oilers, and Remembering Frank

On a day when the team wears Oilers throwbacks for the second time this season, former Oilers receiver Billy "White Shoes" Johnson will be inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honor during halftime of Sunday's game. Johnson will join a the list of legends that includes K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr., Elvin Bethea, George Blanda, Robert Brazile, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, Mike Holovak, Ken Houston, Bruce Matthews, Steve McNair, Warren Moon, Mike Munchak, Jim Norton and Frank Wycheck. Speaking of Wycheck, the team plans to honor the Titans legend, who passed away last weekend at the age of 52, prior to kickoff.

Importance on Week 15

The Titans are barely hanging on to playoff hopes, but hey, they're not completely dead yet. The Titans are favorites for just the third time this season, as the line is Tennessee minus-3 against the Texans. The Titans were underdogs in 11 of the team's first 13 games. Since 1990, teams that started a season 6-8 have made the playoffs 5.9% (7/119) of the time, won the division 4.2% (5/19) of the time and won the Super Bowl 0.0% (0/119) of the time. The percentages for teams that started 5-9: 0% for playoffs (0/113), 0% for division (0/113) and 0% for Super Bowl (0/113).

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