Titans vs. Texans: Six Things to Watch


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans face the Houston Texans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Here's a look at six things to watch:


Matt Cassel's first start with Titans**

Cassel, a 12-year veteran, will make his first start on Sunday with the Titans, and the 80th start of his career. Cassel came off the bench to replace an injured Marcus Mariota last Saturday in Jacksonville, and he's taken first-team reps in practices this week. Cassel will need to get the ball out against a Texans pass rush capable of producing pressure, and creating havoc.

Can DeMarco Murray finish with a bang?

It's been a solid season for Murray, who enters Week 17 ranked third in the NFL in rushing with 1,266 yards. Murray is second in the AFC in rushing yards behind only Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell (1,268), so he has a great chance to finish as the conference's leading rusher even if he won't catch Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (1,631 yards) for the rushing title.

Double digit sacks

Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo enters the season finale with 10.5 sacks, and linebacker Derrick Morgan is right behind him with a nine, which is a career high. Morgan has a chance to give the Titans a pair of double-digit sack producers for the first time in the "Titans era." Texans quarterback Tom Savage has proven he's willing to stand in the pocket, so they should get chances.


Tim Shaw is the 12th Titan**

Former Titans linebacker Tim Shaw will serve as the Honorary 12th Titan for Sunday's game. It's part of a big day for Shaw, who will be on the south lawn at 10 a.m. for a meet-and-greet. Shaw, diagnosed with ALS in 2014, recently wrote a book, Blitz Your Life. It's a collection of reflections and challenges from Shaw, who played from 2010-12 with the Titans. The Titans will also present a check to ALS during Sunday's game for money raised during the 2016 season.

Final game?

There's plenty to be determined in the coming months, but several Titans have expiring contracts, so Sunday could be their final game at Nissan Stadium. Receiver Kendall Wright, tight end Anthony Fasano, Rashad Johnson, Valentino Blake, Marc Mariani, Brian Schwenke, Daimion Stafford, David Bass and Cassel are among those with expiring deals, although some could be retained in the offseason.

Finish with a winning mark

The Titans have a chance to finish the season with a 9-7 record, which would triple last year's win total (3-13 in 2015) and give the team its first winning record since the 2011 season. It would also give the Titans a 5-3 record at Nissan Stadium, and four straight wins at home to finish the season. And it would be a nice kickoff to the 2017 calendar year.

TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Houston Texans. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)

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