DeAndre Hopkins has played some of his best football against the Tennessee Titans. On Sunday, the Houston Texans will head to Nashville for what might be the biggest game of their series with the division rival. With both teams at 8-5, the winner will take over first place in the AFC South and takes one step closer to locking up a playoff berth.
"That's what you want playing in December, being able to control your own destiny," Hopkins said. "We got a good team this week against the Titans and I'm sure they're saying the same thing so we just got to come out and play a good game."
Since entering the league in 2013, Hopkins has played 12 times against the Titans. Deshaun Watson was the starting quarterback for just three of those games. The two-time All-Pro receiver has caught a touchdown pass in two of those three contests, averaging 97 yards receiving per game against Tennessee when Watson is throwing to him.
"Best receiver in the league, each and every week," Watson said. "That makes my job a little easier. He's a guy that loves to compete, loves to win, loves to play football."
In his 12 career starts against the AFC South opponent, Hopkins has put up 100-yard receiving performances in six of those games. As a rookie, his first 100-yard game was in Week 2 when the Texans defeated the Titans 30-24 in overtime. Andre Johnson left the game with a concussion late in the fourth quarter. In his NRG Stadium debut, Hopkins caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime.
On November 30, 2014, Hopkins set single-game career highs in receiving yards against Tennessee. Hopkins put up a personal-best (that still stands) 238 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns. He averaged 26.4 yards per catch, which included a 58-yard touchdown throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick just before halftime. Later, Hopkins scored again on a 34-yard score in the third quarter.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel was on the sideline for that game as the Texans linebackers coach. On Sunday, his secondary will have the tall task of containing Hopkins as much as possible.
"I think you just have to be able to stay as physical as you can," Vrabel said. "Understand that they're going to throw it to him in tightly contested windows. His play strength is very good, he's got great hands, his ability to make catches on the sideline probably second to none and he's got a very good knack of being able to sit down in zone coverage and understand where he needs to be in relationship with the quarterback."
The Texans are 8-4 against the Tennessee Titans with Hopkins in the lineup. The seven-year veteran has caught 77 passes for 1,194 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in those games.
Kickoff from Nissan Stadium is Sunday 12 noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.