Titans vs Texans: Keys to victory

The city of Houston’s NFL past and present collide on Sunday as the former Oilers/Titans (3-2) face the Texans (3-3) in a pivotal AFC South division match-up. The Titans are seeking their 4th win of the season but may have to go to battle without the services of Houston native Vince Young, whose playing status for tomorrow’s game will be a game-time decision.
Both teams are looking to right their respective ships after a string of inconsistent performances. The Titans have turned the ball over eight times during their last two games, a lackluster win against the Falcons and a tough loss to the Bucs. Since beginning the season 2-0, the Texans have lost 3 out of their last 4 games, with their only victory coming in the final seconds against the winless Miami Dolphins.
Keys to a Titan victory on Sunday
Injuries =Opportunity for backups to step up
Kerry Collins isn’t the only Titan that may have to step up in the place of an injured Titan starter. Antwan Odom (thigh), Chris Brown (ankle) and Brandon Jones (knee), are all on the injury report and may not be available against the Texans. If Odom is unable to go, Travis LaBoy or the recently acquired Bryce Fisher will take his place at defensive end. The inconsistent LenDale White will get most of the carries at running back if Brown is unable to perform, but keep an eye out for rookie Chris Henry, who will be on the active roster for the first time this season. Justin Gage caught a season-high 4 receptions for 82 yards last week and should continue to see a lot of playing time at wide receiver as a result of the injury to Brandon Jones. A solid performance from one or more of these players could be a huge factor for the Titans tomorrow.
Contain Amobi Okoye
The NFL’s youngest player ever (19 years old) to be drafted in the first round, rookie Amobi Okoye has proven to be an instant difference-maker on Houston’s defense this season. Named the NFL’s best rookie for the month of September, Okoye has been a handful for opposing offensive lineman, leading all rookies in sacks (4) while amassing 15 tackles. Keeping Okoye in check and out of the backfield will be one of the main priorities of the Titans’ offensive line on Sunday.
Defense must continue stellar play
The Titans’ most consistent and effective unit this season has been their defense. The Titans are currently the league’s #1 ranked defense against the run, allowing only 63.8 yards per game. Stopping the run shouldn’t be a problem for the Titans this week, as they face a Texan rushing attack that is ranked #29 in the league.
The Texans will attempt to attack the Titans’ strong defense through the air. QB Matt Schaub is at the helm of the league’s 6th best passing attack, averaging over 260 yards per game. Star wide receiver Andre Johnson is expected to miss this week’s contest against Tennessee, and the Texans are 1-3 without him in the starting lineup. Stopping Matt Schaub and the Texans’ passing game will be the biggest priority of the Titans’ defense.

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