Titans at Texans: Five Things to Watch


NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Sunday's Week 13 game in Houston is one of two remaining road games for the Titans (2-9), who meet the Texans (5-6) at NRG Stadium (noon, CT).

The Texans won the first meeting between these two teams, a convincing 30-16 victory at LP Field in Week 8. Houston is clinging to hopes in the AFC South, trailing the first place Colts by two games. They'll need to win on Sunday in order to remain in the mix.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is back under center after Ryan Mallett was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. Houston made the switch to Mallett two weeks ago and went 1-1 in his two starts.

The Titans have had plenty of injuries themselves. Center Brian Schwenke (knee) is the latest Titan to make his way to injured reserve. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) has already been ruled out of Sunday's contest with five other Titans listed as questionable.

Houston won the last meeting at NRG Stadium in September of last season, but the Titans own a 7-5 all-time record at the home of the Texans.

Tennessee also holds a 15-10 advantage in the all-time series.

Milestones on the Horizon

Delanie Walker (667 receiving yards) needs 102 receiving yards to set a new single-season franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end, passing Frank Wycheck (768 yards in 1998).

• Zach Mettenberger can become the first Titans quarterback to pass for 300-plus yards in back-to-back weeks since Matt Hasselbeck (Weeks 2 & 3 in 2011).

• Nate Washington (395 career receptions) needs five receptions to reach 400 for his career.

• Kendall Wright (four touchdown receptions in 2014) needs one more score to set a new personal single-season high.

Five Things to Watch

1. Protect Mettenberger

The Eagles sacked the rookie five times and hit him nine times in all last Sunday. J.J. Watt and company awaits the Titans' make-shift offensive line in week 13.

Tennessee will be shorthanded against the Texans up front. With center Brian Schwenke (knee) placed on IR, Chris Spencer will get the start. The veteran lineman has 90 career starts in his 10-year career.

In addition, both starting tackles -- Taylor Lewan (ankle) and Michael Oher (toe) -- are questionable for Sunday's game, with veterans Will Svitek (18 career starts) and Byron Stingily (five career starts) ready to step in.


  1. Air It Out**

After throwing for a franchise rookie record of 345 yards in week 12, Mettenberger should have more opportunities to make throws downfield against the Texans.

Houston is allowing 273.4 passing yards per game. Only the Atlanta Falcons allow more.

3. The Third Down Battle

The Titans have struggled on third downs all season and converted just two out of 12 attempts against the Eagles last week. Tennessee's 29 percent conversion rate is the lowest in the league.

Houston has had its problems on third down as well, converting only 37 percent of the time this season.

4. Contain Arian Foster

Foster is expected to return to the Texans' lineup after missing two games with a groin injury. Houston's top running back gashed the Titans for 151 rushing yards and three total touchdowns in Week 8 at LP Field.

Tennessee's run defense has been struggling of late, allowing 204 yards to Le'Veon Bell and 130 yards to LeSean McCoy in consecutive weeks. The team hopes a few physical practices this week will help improve their gap control against the Texans.

5. Win the Turnover Battle

Despite intercepting Mark Sanchez twice last week, a pair of second-half fumbles doomed Tennessee's comeback at Philadelphia. A Zach Mettenberger interception late in the fourth quarter gave the Titans a minus one turnover differential for the game.

With Fitzpatrick under center for the Texans, the Titans will have a chance at a few takeaways on Sunday. Fitzpatrick has eight interceptions in nine starts this season after throwing 12 picks in 11 games with the Titans in 2013.

Houston has forced a league-high 24 turnovers this season and enters the game with a plus-nine turnover differential. The Titans come in at minus three.

he Tennessee Titans take the field for a Week 8 game against the Houston Texans at LP Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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