Since the Texans last defeated the Titans in Week 2, everything has changed. That includes playoff hopes for both teams, losing streaks, a head coaching change for the Texans, and injuries at quarterback. This week, the team takes a look at their final opponent for the 2013 season and what needs to be done on Sunday.
1. New Quarterback
When the Texans defeated Tennessee in Week 2, Jake Locker was the starter. Now out for the season with a Lisfranc foot injury, the same as Matt Schaub's in 2011, Locker has been replaced by nine-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick after Week 10.
"He's hard to get down and I think that's one of the major things we are going to have to watch as far as the running game and him running with the ball," Antonio Smith said.
Titans head coach Mike Munchak said this wee that he has altered the offense to better suit Fitzpatrick incorporating more no-huddle, empty backfield, and things that took advantage of his strengths.
2. Being thin isn't always good
In Week 2, Arian Foster tied up the score in the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion. In the final week of the season, the Texans are without Foster, Ben Tate, Deji Karim, and even Dennis Johnson is questionable. Depth at running back has been an issue for several weeks now.
"I wish I was that thin myself," interim head coach Wade Phillips said, jokingly. "But going down to the fifth guy who wasn't playing football all year, I can't think of a team, this is my 38th year, I can't think of a team that's had to do that."
The Texans activated Chad Span from their practice squad to help out rookie Johnathan Grimes, Sunday's starter. Grimes has a big opportunity to show what he could offer next season with Tate injured and in the final year of his contract.
3. Put a lid on the run game
The Titans are coming off their second-highest rushing performance , 182 yards against Jacksonville last week. Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene rushed for 90 and 91 yards, consecutively. The Titans also put up 198 yards rushing on November 3 at St. Louis.
"They're a good football team. They're running the ball pretty well. Last game, they were very effective with both running backs running the ball," J.J. Watt said.
Chris Johnson is 50 yards shy of another 1,000-yard season. If he does, he becomes the sixth player in NFL history to do so in each of his first six seasons. With 11 receiving yards, Johnson also reaches 2,000 career receiving yards.
4. Records are meant to be broken
Pro Bowlers Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt have had memorable performances in an otherwise forgettable season. Johnson is 142 yards shy of becoming the first player in NFL history to record four seasons with at least 100 receptions and 1,500 yards receiving.
"It's amazing," Phillips said. "Andre is just the consummate pro. He's always positive. He's always making plays. It's tremendous the number of plays he's made, over 100 catches five years. That just say so much about him. And if you know him as a person, he's even better."
Watt leads the NFL with 44 quarterback hits and leads the Texans with 9.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Watt needs just 0.5 sacks to reach 10 on the year, giving him back-to-back seasons with 10 sacks or more. He would become the second player in franchise history to do so, joining Mario Williams (2007-2008).
Earlier in the season, Titans guard Chance Warmack referred to Watt as just another player he faced. With a rematch on Sunday, Watt said he'll let his performance do the talking for him.
"I let my play do the talking," Watt said. "That's fine. I put my helmet just like everybody else. It's what I do once the helmet is on that matters."