HOUSTON, Texas -- The Titans face the Houston Texans on Monday night at NRG Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Mariota Bounce Back?
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota had turned in three really nice performances until last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, when he was slow out of the gate before leaving with a stinger. Mariota is a go for Monday's game, and the Titans need him to get going again. Mariota played well on MNF against the Cowboys, and he'll aim to spark a rebound against the Texans.
The Titans never threatened Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, and he made them pay. Against the Texans, the Titans will face a talented and elusive quarterback in Deshaun Watson, who has given the Titans some trouble in his career. The Titans contained Watson in a Week 2 win in Nashville. The last time the Titans played in Houston, Watson lit them up with a five-TD performance. The Titans need to put some pressure on him.
Protect the QB
Mariota has already been sacked 29 times in nine games this season – and he missed one game, and parts of three others. He was sacked four times in the first half on Sunday before leaving, The Titans face a big challenge against a Texans defense that can get after the QB. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt already has 10 sacks on the season, and in his last 10 games against the Titans he has 14.5 sacks, and seven forced fumbles. The Texans didn't have Jadeveon Clowney in the Week 2 game, and he's back.
Corey Davis and Co.
The Titans will be without receiver Taywan Taylor for the third straight game, but the team has playmakers. And they need them to make plays. Receiver Corey Davis has been spectacular on two Sundays this season, and he's made significant strides in Year 2. The Titans need him to make plays on MNF, but will also count on others, from Tajae Sharpe to Cameron Batson to Darius Jennings. The tight ends need to contribute as well.
Run the Ball
Titans running back Derrick Henry has raised his game since the bye. He's averaged over five yards per carry in the last three games, and he's scored three touchdowns. Running back Dion Lewis has made an impact himself. To slow down Houston's rush, the Titans need to have some success in the running game. Lewis is capable of turning in an all-around performance – he has 120-scrimmage yards in two of the last three games on the road.
Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson had the quote of the week leading up to Monday's game when talking about Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins -- "He looks like he is catching a Nerf ball out there sometimes," Jackson said. "He catches everything that comes his way, like a magnet." In 11 career games vs. the Titans, Hopkins has 72 catches for 1,120 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are ridiculous stats. The Titans better do a better job defending him than they did T.Y. Hilton last week.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Houston Texans. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)