NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This week the Tennessee Titans (2-9) play their third road game in a four-week stretch, taking on the division rival Houston Texans (5-6). Kickoff at NRG Stadium (capactiy 71,054) is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, Nov. 30.
This week's game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties, while Rich Gannon will serve as analyst.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.
LAST WEEK IN PHILADELPHIA
The Titans traveled to Philadelphia last week, where they suffered their fifth consecutive loss. Despite a record-setting passing total by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, they were ultimately defeated by a final score of 43-24.
In his fourth career start, Mettenberger completed 20 of his 39 passing attempts for 345 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception (88.1 passer rating). In the process of recording his first 300-yard game, he set the franchise's single-game yardage for rookie passers. Previously, Jacky Lee owned the mark with 331 passing yards against the Boston Patriots on Nov. 25, 1960. Mettenberger's single-game total is the highest among NFL rookie passers this season.
Mettenberger completed touchdown passes of 40 yards to Justin Hunter and six yards to Dexter McCluster. Additionally, his 68-yard pass to Delanie Walker was his second-longest pass of the season.
Walker had a big day in Philadelphia, catching five passes for a career-high 155 yards. The yardage total ranks second in franchise history for a tight end, trailing only a 169-yard game by Jared Cook on Dec. 24, 2011. Walker's 155 yards are the most in a game by any NFL tight end in 2014.
A sixth-round pick from Louisiana State University, Mettenberger recorded his first career start on Oct. 26 in Tennessee's first matchup with Houston. He passed for 299 yards with a pair of touchdowns, but he was intercepted once and sacked twice in the Texans' 30-16 win.
*THE TEXANS *
The Texans host the Titans this week hoping to stay within striking distance of the AFC South's first-place Indianapolis Colts. While the Colts toppled the Jacksonville Jaguars last week to move to 7-4, the Texans hosted the Cincinnati Bengals and fell by a final score of 22-13.
Ryan Mallett has recorded the first starts of his career in the last two weeks at quarterback for the Texans. He has completed 41 of 75 pass attempts for 400 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (67.6 passer rating). The former third-round pick from Arkansas spent his first three pro seasons with the New England Patriots before being traded to the Texans at the end of August. Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starter for the Texans' first nine games.
On defense, the Texans have one of the NFL's most recognizable stars in defensive end J.J. Watt. The 2012 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year is in his fourth season, and through 11 games, he has 9.5 sacks. He also has two touchdowns on defense and a pair of touchdowns on offense as a tight end.
The Texans are in their first year under head coach Bill O'Brien, who was named to the post in January. O'Brien spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Penn State, and prior to that, he spent five seasons (2007–2011) as an assistant with the New England Patriots.
The Titans-Texans rivalry is in its 13th year since the expansion Texans began play and the AFC South was formed in 2002. In 25 games, the Titans are 15-10 against the Texans, including an 8-5 mark at LP Field and a 7-5 record at Reliant Stadium.
The Texans have won four out of the last five battles with the Titans, beginning with a sweep in 2012. At Houston on Sept. 30 of that year, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub passed for two touchdowns, and the Houston defense returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns to defeat the Titans 38-14. Then, on Dec. 2, 2012, the teams squared off at LP Field, and despite 309 passing yards from Jake Locker, the Texans forced six turnovers to pull away with a 24-10 win.
The Titans and Texans split in 2013. In Week 2 (Sept. 15), the Texans came back from an eight-point deficit in the final 3:07 of the fourth quarter. Schaub completed a three-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins on the first drive of overtime to give Houston a 30-24 victory. The Titans ended the Texans' three-game winning streak against them at LP Field in the 2013 finale. They forced four Texans turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) and rushed for a team-total of 151 yards, including 127 yards and a touchdown by Chris Johnson.
In the first matchup of 2014, the Texans won 30-16 at LP Field. Mettenberger recorded his first professional start and was 27-of-41 passing for 299 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a passer rating of 93.4. The Titans defense recorded five sacks, but it was not enough to overcome 173 total yards and three touchdowns by Texans running back Arian Foster.
The Titans franchise has a rich and storied history with the city of Houston. Under late owner K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr., the Titans existed as the Houston Oilers from 1960-96. In Houston, the Oilers won the first two American Football League Championships and made a total of 15 playoff appearances. Nine players that wore a Houston Oilers uniform are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including most recently former quarterback Warren Moon, defensive tackle Curley Culp and offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
The team moved to Tennessee in 1997 and in 1999 adopted the "Titans" moniker.
he Tennessee Titans take the field for a Week 8 game against the Houston Texans at LP Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)