Game Predictions & Player Projections - TEN vs. HOU

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: TEN 10, HOU 24 (Line: HOU by 6.5, O/U = 40)

UPDATE: Delanie Walker is a game time decision because of his hamstring. He was limited in practices and will be evaluated before the game. I am lowering his projections from the risk but he could still play and contribute. Kendall Wright should be able to play finally but I am not adding him into the projections.

The 1-2 Titans are only one game behind the division leading 2-1 Texans. But the Texans swept the Titans last year. They won 34-6 in Tennessee and 20-6 at home. The Texans defense is more than enough to keep the Titans offense at bay.

Tennessee Titans

1 MIN 16-25 10 GB ---
2 @DET 16-15 11 @IND ---
3 OAK 10-17 12 @CHI ---
4 @HOU --- 13 BYE ---
5 @MIA --- 14 DEN ---
6 CLE --- 15 @KC ---
7 IND --- 16 @JAC ---
8 JAC --- 17 HOU ---
9 @SD ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
TEN @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Marcus Mariota 20 240
RB Derrick Henry 20 2-20
RB DeMarco Murray 70,1 7-60
WR Rishard Matthews 3-30
WR Tajae' Sharpe 4-40
TE Delanie Walker 4-40
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Titans defense is better than expected though in fairness at some point opponents are just not going to try as hard knowing that they can win anyway. The biggest disappointment is that there is no major rushing game here and yet the passing offense is only average. The Titans have a marginally better rushing offense but that seems to have come at the expense of the passing stats. And this offense cannot spare any means of scoring. The Titans have the lowest total points in the NFL after three weeks. And that was with two home games including the visiting Raiders.

QUARTERBACK : Marcus Mariota managed two passing scores in each of his first two games but he's averaging only around 240 yards and did not score against the Raiders. He's thrown an interception or two in every game and even lost two fumbles. Worse yet - he still is not using his wide receivers. Rookie quarterbacks get a pass on that as they learn the offense but in year two, a 1-2 record should have more than a bunch of 30-yard wideouts every week.

RUNNING BACK : DeMarco Murray comes off his first 100 yard rushing effort as a Titan when he gained 114 yards on 16 carries plus scored his first rushing touchdown. He added five catches for 41 yards and has yet to catch any fewer than five passes. His total yardage is healthy and he scored twice via receptions in the opener. He's been the lone consistently productive player for the Texans. Derrick Henry only matters when the Texans face a soft defense and the game is close enough to allow his to get up to ten carries. He has no role as a receiver and has yet to top 50 total yards in any game.

WIDE RECEIVER : While Tajae Sharpe looked promising in the preseason and then turned in seven catches for 76 yards in the opener, that is the extent of any success by a wideout. he has since been held to fewer than 50 yards each week. Rishard Matthews cannot break 40 yards and Andre Johnson scored on his only catch in Week 2 and then again in Week 3 but it was called back on offensive pass interference and he ended with zero catches. Until this unit can produce even average stats, the Titans cannot compete when they fall behind.

TIGHT END : Delanie Walker was inactive last week because of his hamstring but is expected to return this week. I will assume he is good to go and update as needed. In his place, newly signed Jace Amaro caught three passes for 59 yards. Mariota is just far more comfortable throwing to the tight end than any of the wide receivers.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Mariota faces a secondary that allowed only one passing touchdown this year and no opponent passed for more than 216 yards. But the opponents have not been elite offenses and neither are the Titans. No reason to expect a road trip to Houston to be any better than sitting at home against the Raiders.

DeMarco Murray is a must start and should have success unless the Titans fall behind so early and so much that they opt to actually throw more. Even then Murray should compensate with receiving yards. If any Titan scores a touchdown, it greatly favors Murray. Henry is likely to have a smaller role this week.

Walker is a must start as well though he won't do much more than moderate stats. The Texans already held Travis Kelce to only 34 yards and then the Patriot tight ends to just ten yards.

The Texans just lost J.J. Watts but that shouldn't impact this game as much as future opponents.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 23 4 31 14 30 31
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 4 9 4 5 15 19

Houston Texans

1 CHI 23-14 10 @JAC ---
2 KC 19-12 11 @OAK ---
3 @NE 0-27 12 SD ---
4 TEN --- 13 @GB ---
5 @MIN --- 14 @IND ---
6 IND --- 15 JAC ---
7 @DEN --- 16 CIN ---
8 DET --- 17 @TEN ---
9 BYE ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Lamar Miller 80,1 4-30
WR Will Fuller V 4-70
WR DeAndre Hopkins 7-110,1

Pregame Notes: The Texans were doing well with two home wins but one trip to New England last Thursday and suddenly nothing looks that rosy. This week should help cure that. The problem becomes that the next two road games are at Minnesota and Denver which sport even better defenses than the Patriots (though in fairness no one will consider New England as underrated anymore).Three weeks in and the passing game has been a disappointment and only a big workload keeps Lamar Miller with significant fantasy points.

QUARTERBACK : Brock Osweiler comes off a terrible game completing just 24 of 41 passes for 196 yards and one interception at New England. He's been slightly more successful with his rookie wideout than the elite DeAndre Hopkins and last week was a shock when he ended up mostly hitting his tight end which the Texans rarely every use. Osweiler has to get back to success with both wideouts since that is how the offense is designed to operate.

RUNNING BACK : No question who the workhorse back is here. Lamar Miller already rushed 74 times in just three games for 269 yards. He's been right at 100 total yards or more every week and adds two to four catches for short yardage. What he has yet to do is score an actual touchdown. Miller takes almost every single touch by a running back but has yet to cross the end zone. Two home games in the next three weeks is bound to correct that but it is a glaring failure so far.

WIDE RECEIVER : This two man show was productive in the first two games but the Patriots held Will Fuller to only 31 yards on three catches for his first game that didn't top 100 yards. DeAndre Hopkins not only was held to only four catches for 56 yards, but it was his second game that ended with fewer than 60 yards. And it was his first without a score. Hopkins and Fuller remain the most productive players and that won't change. But it is troublesome that Hopkins has twice been held to mediocre yardage.

Braxton Miller was inactive last week with a hamstring strain and may not return this week. Jaelen Strong replaced him but only had one catch last week.

TIGHT END : The Texans almost never use their tight ends for more than one or two catches per week so it was a surprise when Ryan Griffin ended with eight catches for 52 yards in the loss to the Patriots. He only averaged around one catch per game during his four years in the league so this was nothing more than an aberration.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Titans have been good on defense. They allowedjuar two passing scores and never more than 260 pass yards and that was facing Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr. Brock Osweiler has been no better than average but at least he has been able to connect with his wideouts and the Titans have already allowed three receivers to top 100 yards. DeAndre Hopkins should be a lock for a big game here even if no one else does much. Fuller is a moderate consideration and the Texans will move the ball mostly through the top two wideouts.

Miller goes against a defense that has been great against the run but they are on the road. They held Adrian Peterson to only 31 rush yards but everything will funnel through Miller for the backfield. He's a solid start this week and has upside for a score and bigger yardage depending on the game situation.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 30 24 24 25 13 14
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 6 2 16 11 20 29

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