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Know Your Foe: Tennessee Titans | Week 17


It's been five years since the Texans beat the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. That night, five years ago, was such a magical, emotional night on Monday Night Football, as the Texans beat the Titans 34-17 as we celebrated the incredible life of the Texans wonderful founder Bob McNair.

Since that night, the Titans have captured four straight W's at NRG Stadium and, perhaps more importantly, the Titans have physically taken over games at NRG due to the presence of one man, in particular. Titans star RB Derrick Henry has run roughshod over the Texans in that same timeframe and epitomized the struggles of the Texans in that five year period. Here's what he's done at NRG Stadium lately.

2019 - 32 carries for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a Titans 35-14 win.

2020 - 34 carries for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a Titans 41-38 win. 

2021 - Injured, missed the week 18 28-25 Titans win.

2022 - 32 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns in a Titans 17-10 win.

Things changed two weeks ago in Nashville In the Texans' win over the Titans…finally.

2023 - 16 carries for nine yards and no touchdowns.

One of the more interesting talking points after the Texans' win over Tennessee was whether Henry's time in Nashville was coming to a close at the end of the 2023 season. Henry acknowledged there was a strong possibility of that happening, so I expect Henry to want to go out with a bang against the Texans in a building in which he's had incredible success, especially after being shut down in the first meeting two weeks ago.

However, this Titans team has been hit with the injury bug over the past three weeks like I've not seen this year in the NFL. But, that makes them AWFULLY dangerous, backed into the corner. Plus, if veteran QB Ryan Tannehill steps up as the starter again this week, the Titans are going to make this one uncomfortable afternoon (or worse) for the good guys in Houston.

As such, let's get to Know the Texans' Week 17 Foe (again) - The Tennessee Titans

2023 Schedule (5-10)

Week 1 - L @ New Orleans Saints 16-15

Week 2 - W Los Angeles Chargers 27-24

Week 3 - L @ Cleveland Browns 27-3

Week 4 - W Cincinnati Bengals 27-3

Week 5 - L @ Indianapolis Colts 23-16

Week 6 - L Baltimore Ravens 24-16

Week 7 - BYE

Week 8 - W Atlanta Falcons 28-23

Week 9 - L @ Pittsburgh Steelers 20-16

Week 10 - L @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-6

Week 11 - L @ Jacksonville Jaguars 34-14

Week 12 - W Carolina Panthers 17-10

Week 13 - L Indianapolis Colts 31-28

Week 14 - W @ Miami Dolphins 28-27

Week 15 - L Houston Texans 19-16 OT

Week 16 - L Seattle Seahawks 20-17

Week 17 - @ Houston Texans

Week 18 - Jacksonville Jaguars

Titans OFFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Per game - 106.9 ypg (18th in the NFL)

Passing Yards Per game - 193.7 ypg (24th)

Total offense per game - 300.6 ypg (25th)

Turnovers lost - 17 (9 INT, 8 Fumbles lost)

Expected Titans starting offense for Week 17

QB - WILL LEVIS OR Ryan Tannehill (Levis didn't play in week 16 v. Seattle)

RB - Derrick Henry


WR - Treylon Burks


TE - Chig Okonkwo

LT - ANDRE DILLARD OR JAELYN DUNCAN (Dealing with a wrist injury)


C - Aaron Brewer

RG - DANIEL BRUNSKILL or Andrew Rupcich (started last week v. Seattle)

RT - Dillon Radunz 

Other Key Offensive pieces


WR - Mason Kinsey

TE - Kevin Rader

TE - Trevon Wesco


OL - Corey Levin



Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Titans Offense

  1. Welcome Back…hopefully not - DeAndre Hopkins played his last game as a Texan at NRG Stadium in the Texans WILD wild card playoff win over the Buffalo Bills in January 2020. He will return to the building where he made so many indescribable catches, and created so many moments, for the first time since that playoff game. The Texans secondary was absolutely shredded last week by Browns star WR Amari Cooper so Hop's ready to go Back to the Future with a vintage performance in front of many Texans fans that still love him. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Titans take a few more deep shots to Hop to get Levis/Tannehill flowing and it's been what the Texans have struggled with this season in the secondary. The Explosives list is way too long.

Colts TE Will Mallory 43-yard catch, set up Indy's 3rd TD of 1st half.

Saints WR Rashid Shaheed 34-yard TD catch, got Saints back in the game.

Panthers WR Jonathan Mingo 40-yard catch, set up a FG

Bucs WR Mike Evans 53-yard near TD catch

Cardinals WR Rondale Moore 48-yard TD catch on 1st drive of the game.

Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase 64-yard TD catch

FOUR receptions of 40+ yards v. Jacksonville in week 12

Broncos WR Courtland Sutton 45-yard TD catch.

Browns WR Amari Cooper's 75-yard TD catch & 53-yard catch on 1st play of last week's game.

It's beyond imperative that the Texans eliminate those deep shot opportunities against Hop in his old building.

  1. One Final Time?- I mentioned Henry's incredible run of success against the Texans but the last two outings have told a little bit of a different story, thankfully. On Christmas Eve in 2022, the Texans gave up a Henry 48-yard touchdown run, but after that, the Texans defense held him to 78 yards on 22 carries. So, over his last 38 carries against Houston, the Texans have allowed just 87 yards on 38 carries. The Texans blew up Henry's runway and tackled well in the matchup in Nashville, but can they do it one final time against Henry as a Titan? Is THIS the last time for Henry as a Titan against the Texans? Won't know the answer to those questions for a while, but do know that if the Texans let Henry have one of his 200-yard masterpieces as a going away gift, it's going to be a LONG afternoon for the good guys.
  1. Seven, SEVEN!- The Texans lit up the Titans offensive line two weeks ago in Nashville, racking up seven sacks and having its way with a group that's had struggles all season long. Making matters worse, a banged up, patchwork OL now has a few more injuries to deal with in the immediate future. Jaelyn Duncan started at LT, but injured his wrist so the Titans may need to go back to FA signee Andre Dillard. RG Daniel Brunskill injured his leg during the matchup two weeks ago, so the Titans had to start Andrew Rupcich against Seattle who was activated for the first time last week. The Texans couldn't get pressure on Browns QB Joe Flacco last week so they need to unleash on whatever quintet starts for the Titans OL this week.

The Houston Texans held practice on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 in preparation for the Week 17 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

Titans DEFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 110.2 ypg (14th in the NFL)

Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 229.1 ypg (22nd)

Total offense Allowed per game - 339.2 ypg (17th)

Turnovers generated - 11 (3 INT, 8 Fumble recoveries - Titans are -6 in TO margin)

Expected Titans starting defense for Week 17


DE - Denico Autry



OLB - Harold Landry III



CB - Roger McCreary

S - K'VON WALLACE (Injured last week) or MIKE BROWN (started v. SEA Week, 16)

S - Elijah Molden

CB - Tre Avery

Nickel - Roger McCreary

Other Key Defensive pieces






OLB - Rashad Weaver



Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Titans' Defense

  1. Banged up…badly- When Titans PxP Mike Keith sat down with Marc Vandermeer this week for our Men Behind the Mics segment for Texans All-Access radio, Keith told Marc that Marc would need to re-do all of his preparation for the Titans defense because so much has changed due to injuries. Since week 15, the Titans have been placed the following players on IR

Pro Bowl DT Jeffery Simmons

LB Jack Gibbens

LB Luke Gifford

S Amani Hooker

CB Kristian Fulton

DT Kyle Peko

As a result, the Titans claimed former Texans LB Garret Wallow at linebacker and he might have to start because the Titans LB depth has been decimated. At safety, they traded Kevin Byard earlier in the season to Philly and then lost Hooker to IR. Fellow safety K'Von Wallace is banged up right now. The point is that the Titans are a patchwork unit on defense, but backed into a corner, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see them play their guts out one final time to ruin the Texans playoff dreams in the Texans last home game of the 2023 season.

  1. The Major Key- With Simmons now on IR, missing both games against the Texans, the key to moving the ball against the Titans is to slow down three players - Arden Key, Denico Autry and Harold Landry III. Those three all had moments getting to Case Keenum in the first mathcup, creating pressure or coming up with sacks at key moments. With C.J. Stroud potentially returning for this game, it's as important as it's ever been, NO ONE TOUCHES THE QB! NO. ONE! That trio can do it with length, twitch and power from all over the line of scrimmage, but the Texans' pass protective machine must stop that from happening.
  1. Attack, Part II - Finally, it's time to get back in attack mode on offense. The Texans had some chances against the Browns early in the game as OC Bobby Slowik drew up some excellent concepts that were just one block away or one better throw or one better catch away from really opening things up. But, with Stroud potentially returning to face a scaled down Titans defense, it's truly time to ratchet it up and get the machine cranked back up, ATTACKING the defense like the Texans defense likes to ATTACK the ball on its side. Honestly, it's time for this team to find its level on both sides and ATTACK the game from all angles for the last time in the regular season in front of the home fans.

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