NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans (3-11) conclude their 2015 home schedule this week against the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (7-7). Kickoff at Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, Dec. 27.
This week's game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Play-by-play announcer Spero Dedes and analyst Solomon Wilcots will call the action.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry 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.
TITANS HOPE TO FINISH STRONG AGAINST DIVISION FOES
The Titans' two remaining games are both against division opponents. After they play the Texans, they finish the season on Jan. 3 at the Indianapolis Colts. They earned a win in their most recent division game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 6.
The Titans return home following a 33-16 loss at the hands of the New England Patriots and are 2-5 under interim head coach Mike Mularkey, who took the reins on Nov. 3.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Houston Texans. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)
At New England, the Titans played more than half of the game with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback after a knee injury forced rookie starter Marcus Mariota out after attempting only six passes. Mettenberger was 20-of-28 passing for 242 yards, including a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Delanie Walker, but he was victimized for two interceptions. The Patriots forced a total of three turnovers and sacked the Titans passers five times.
With two weeks remaining in his rookie campaign, Mariota already has set the franchise rookie records for pass attempts (370), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing touchdowns (19). With one more touchdown pass, he would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history to reach 20 touchdown passes as a rookie.
Mariota is not the only Titans player in search of significant milestones. Walker has 76 receptions and 935 yards, which already qualify as single-season franchise records among tight ends. He needs 65 more receiving yards for the first-ever 1,000-yard season by a Titans tight end, and he could become only the 13th player in team annals with 80 catches in a season. Seven or more receptions would put him in at least a tie with Tim Smith (83 receptions in 1983) for eighth place on the franchise single-season receptions list.
While Mariota, the second-overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, has garnered praise throughout his rookie campaign, the team's second-round pick, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, has increased his production in recent weeks. At New England, he led the team with six receptions and 113 receiving yards, hitting the 100-yard mark for the second time in three games. He is one of three NFL rookies in 2015 to record multiple 100-yard receiving games, joining Oakland's Amari Cooper and Minnesota's Stefon Diggs. Green-Beckham, Kenny Britt (2009) and Justin Hunter (2013) are the only three rookies in the "Titans era" (1999—present) with multiple 100-yard receiving games.
TEXANS IN SEARCH OF DIVISION CROWN
Head coach Bill O'Brien's Texans enter Week 16 needing a win to maintain sole possession of first place in the division. They faced a crucial hurdle last week at Indianapolis and came away with a 16-10 victory over the Colts, who slipped to second place at 6-8. Meanwhile, the third-place Jacksonville Jaguars are still in the race at 5-9. Simultaneous to the the Titans-Texans matchup this week, the Jaguars will visit the New Orleans Saints and the Colts will play at the Miami Dolphins.
Against the Colts, Texans starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was inactive due to a concussion, and as a result, T.J. Yates received the start. However, Yates was knocked out of the contest with a knee injury in the first half, producing an unlikely hero in third-stringer Brandon Weeden. In the fourth quarter, Weeden completed the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
Whoever serves as the starting quarterback this week will have the benefit of throwing to one of the top young pass-catching talents in the NFL, third-year wideout DeAndre Hopkins. The former first-round pick ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,315 receiving yards and is tied for fourth with 97 receptions.
On defense, the Texans are led by two-time Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. Watt is tied for second place in the NFL with 13.5 sacks.