Texans vs. Titans: A Matchup Preview of a Potential Clincher for Houston

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 30, 2012

The last time these two teams met, Kareem Jackson did some high-stepping.
The last time these two teams met, Kareem Jackson did some high-stepping.Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Win and they're in!

Somehow those words don't carry the same thrill when they come in Week 13, but for the 10-1 Houston Texans, they are true nonetheless.

Here's everything you need to know about their matchup with the Tennessee Titans.

What it Means

For Houston, a win locks down a playoff spot that has been fait accompli for the better part of two months now.

More importantly, it's another step closer to the top overall seed in the AFC. Everyone knows Houston is facing an uphill battle at New England in two weeks, but as long as the Texans don't stumble in Nashville, no outcome from that game could greatly damage their march toward home-field advantage in the playoffs.

For Tennessee, the game represents yet one more opportunity for Mike Munchak to prove he deserves to remain employed.

Matchup To Watch

Tennessee Receivers versus Houston Secondary

Over the last two games, the Texans have surrendered nearly 800 yards in the air and 68 points.

Somewhere along the way, the "bulls on parade" got pinned up like veal.

A nagging hamstring injury to Johnathan Joseph has rendered the once-formidable Texans' defense utterly impotent.

The Titans pose an interesting test. They are loaded with talented wideouts, but have struggled offensively thanks to injury issues and schematic problems.

As Jake Locker and Kenny Britt heal and with Chris Palmer fired, neither of those should be the issue they once were.

If the Titans move the ball with facility against Houston, it could signal a fundamental weakness at the heart of what everyone assumed was the core of the Texans' team.

Of course, the Texans could also go into Nashville and wreak havoc. That's the joy of the game.

Stat That Matters: Three Turnovers

The last time the Titans and Texans squared off, Locker went down with a shoulder injury, and Matt Hasselbeck had to fill in.

The Titans hung tough and appeared to have Houston on the ropes midway through the third quarter before Hasselbeck started firing picks.

The Texans ran two back for scores and converted a fumble into a field goal. The 17 points off turnovers turned a close game into a 24-point rout.

Tennessee can play with Houston. We've already seen it.

What they can't do is play with Houston while turning the ball over.

Best Video Only Tangentially Related to the Game

I confess that this video doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me at all. However, you can't tell me it's not super groovy.

Houston Will Win If...

...everything is OK with its defense.

The Texans are on an offensive roll right now, and should have no trouble putting up 24 to 30 points.

The only way they lose to the Titans is if there really is some flaw in the defense. With Joseph likely out, or at least slowed, Houston will have to prove that they can win with Kareem Jackson and Alan Ball at corner.

Houston is a tough, determined team and should be praised for their incredible performance in winning two overtime games in five days.

It may be that the lapse was nothing more than a bump in the road.

Tennessee Will Win If...

...Locker takes a step forward.

Locker's play has been decent, but not spectacular. He's had some incredible plays and great moments, but has yet to string together a complete performance.

He'll need to do it against the Texans if Tennessee wants a win.

There's little reason to think the Titans can slow the Houston run or pass game. If Tennessee is going to win, it's going to be because there are a lot of points scored by Locker's offense.


The Texans should win this game, but it's hard to shake the feeling like something might not be right with them.

Still, despite nagging concerns, it's impossible to trust the Titans. They are absolutely capable of scoring a big upset, but there's no way anyone should be willing to go out on a limb for them.

Texans 35 Titans 27


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