Welcome back to the division. This is the first AFC South game of the season. And it’s a trendy division to do damage this year.
Opening day wasn’t exactly a coming out party as everyone but the Jags lost. But the Titans and Texans fell on the road and one game is hardly a referendum on a franchise. Oh wait, this is the NFL where according to many, it is.
Let’s take some inventory here. Yes, it was very disappointing the Texans didn’t play better at New England. Even with all the errors they still had a shot to win it. And the miscues are all correctable.
Deshaun Watson shook off a slow start in the first half and looked better after intermission. We’ve seen him heat up before and he will again. He also has a ground game helping him.
During his six starts last year, the Texans had the league’s third best rushing attack. Sunday, they had the fourth most rushing yards on the weekend. The offensive line and backs Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue are off to a good start in that department.
Tennessee’s defense is coached by Dean Pees, who Bill O’Brien has coached against and also worked with in New England. Between Pees, head coach Mike Vrabel and the fact that that the Texans coaches have seen the Titans personnel multiple times, there’s great familiarity in this game.
The offense is a bit different. The Titans have lost Delanie Walker, who averaged five catches per game for them since he arrived in Nashville in 2013. Marcus Mariota is going to have to work hard to find targets against a Texans pass rush that warmed up in the second half last week as the defense held the Patriots to just two field goals after the break.
Special teams could be interesting. The Titans had a kickoff return for a TD in week one and also gave one up. The Texans had a promising return day out of Tyler Ervin who stepped up and is looking to take that phase of the game to another level.
Being in the division is like playing against your relatives. Sure there’s churn on the rosters, but there are so many recognizable faces on the other sideline. Both teams are aching to win. And it’s not lost on the Titans that the Texans hung 57 points on them last season at NRG Stadium.
As the Texans close out their second ever back to back road game stint to start a season, they’ll do everything they can to even the record and get going with the home slate against the Giants the following week.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 5/14/2019)