The Texans take on the Titans on Sunday in Nashville, so here are a few nuggets to chew on as we head into that matchup.
With the shared history amongst these two organizations, they've never met this late in the year with so much on the line. Furthermore, they've never shared first place this late in the season, with meaningful games to play. Technically, they tied for the AFC South in 2016 at 9-7, but the Texans had wrapped up the division the week prior to their week 17 matchup in Nashville.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has faced the Texans twice in his career. In his first start as a rookie, the Texans forced three interceptions and sacked him twice in a 30-10 win over the Dolphins. On that day, he had a career low passer rating - 39.0. In his second start in 2015, Tannehill went the complete other direction, generating a career high passer rating - 158.3, completing 18-of-19 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-26 win over the Texans. Talk about the lows and highs of playing the position; Tannehill epitomized that to a T in those two starts.
The Texans haven't beaten the Titans in Nashville since 2015. The Titans haven't beaten the Texans in Houston since the 2011 season. If form holds... well, let's hope form doesn't hold.
Each week there are always connections amongst the two teams, but I don't know if one is any more unusual than a coach facing his brother. That's the story for Tim and Dennis Kelly. Tim Kelly is the Texans offensive coordinator while he'll be coaching against his younger brother Dennis, an offensive lineman for the Titans. This will be their fifth year seeing each other on opposite sidelines.
The Titans offense is ranked 18th in the league, averaging 346.8 yards per game over the entire season. However, since Tannehill took over, they've averaged 374.4, which would make them 12th in the league... if extrapolated over a whole season.
Texans running back Carlos Hyde is 74 yards short of a 1,000. He came up short of 1k in 2016 (988 yards) and 2017 (938 yards), so if he reaches the 1k mark, it'll be the first time in his career. If he reaches his average (71.2 ypg) on Sunday, he'll come up just three yards short with two games to play. Here's hoping he breaks through and gets well past 1,000 on Sunday.
DeAndre Hopkins has been all kinds of awesome against the Titans. In 12 meetings, he's had 77 catches for 1,194 yards and seven touchdowns. Extrapolate over a whole season (because who doesn't love math) and that would be 103 catches for 1,592 yards and 9+ touchdowns. He has four+ catches and/or 74+ yards in every game but one of those 12 contests (2016 at home).
Will Fuller V may or may not play on Sunday, but when he has faced the Titans, he has excelled. In 2016 as a rookie, he caught seven passes for 81 yards, a touchdown and ran back a punt for the game-winning touchdown. In 2017, in his first game of the season, he had four catches for 35 yards and two touchdowns in a 57-14 win over the Titans. In 2018, in his first game of the season in Week 2, he had eight catches for 113 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, he missed the second matchup in each of the past two seasons.
When Fuller V has played a full game this season, the Texans are 6-2. When he hasn't played a full game, the Texans are 2-3.
Titans running back Derrick Henry has four straight 100-yard games and six on the season. In two games against the Texans in 2018, he combined for 86 yards on 26 carries. Minus a 75-yard touchdown run late in the 2017 season, Henry has combined for 246 yards in six games (61 ypg). I'd take that number on Sunday.
That'll do it for now, enjoy Sunday, everyone. See ya then!