NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** The Titans face the Houston Texans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Mariota bounce back**
The last time the Titans faced the Texans, quarterback Marcus Mariota left the game early with a hamstring injury. On Sunday, he'll face them again, looking to replace that bad memory with a good one. Mariota has blamed poor technique for his recent streak of interceptions (six in the past two games). Now, he's looking to get on a roll at the start of December. In the past five games at home vs AFC South opponents, Mariota has passed for 1,443 yards (288.6 per game) with 10 touchdowns and a 104.8 rating.
RBs distribution of carries
Running back Derrick Henry ended Sunday's game in Indianapolis with a bang, bulldozing his way through defenders with stiff-arms, and a swagger. So what does that mean moving forward for the distribution of carries between Henry and running back DeMarco Murray? Up to this point, the carries have been close to even -- Henry (114) and Murray (129). Coach Mike Mularkey said this week the Titans have "two starters."
The Titans racked up eight sacks against the Colts, with defensive lineman DaQuan Jones leading the way with two. Is it a sign of things to come for the Titans? Even before Sunday, the Titans were happy with the pressure they'd been putting on opposing quarterbacks, despite a low number of sacks. But the breakthrough in the sack department was huge – the Titans now have 25 on the season. Keeping the momentum going against quarterback Tom Savage and the Texans would be huge.
Slow down Hopkins
Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a game-changer. He leads the NFL with nine touchdown catches and ranks second in the league with 1,004 receiving yards. He had seven catches for 125 yards last week against Baltimore, and he had 10 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting against the Titans. In the past seven meetings against the Titans, Hopkins has 778 receiving yards with five touchdowns. Titans cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Adoree' Jackson did a great job on T.Y. Hilton last week. Heck, the entire secondary deserves credit for that one. Can they slow down Hopkins on Sunday?
Just like the Tennessee secondary, the Titans offensive line will have its hands full with Texans pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who will be aiming for his sixth game in a row with a sack. Clowney has nine sacks on the season, and he has been a force. Clowney, who had a sack and a forced fumble in the first meeting with the Titans, lines up in multiple spots. So it will need to be a team effort for the Titans to keep Mariota safe.
Heather Melton, the Honorary 12th Titan
The Titans have had some special Honorary 12th Titans over the years, including Steve McNair's sons during the Baltimore game on October 5. This week's 12th Titan is a special one as well – Heather Melton, the widow of Sonny Melton, who lost his life in the Las Vegas shooting in October. Last November, the Meltons were at Nissan Stadium as fans of the Titans, watching the team beat the Packers. Heather will return with Sonny's family on a day when the team remembers the northwest Tennessee native. It should be an emotional day.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Houston Texans. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)