The Titans are headed to H-Town for a divisional rematch.
With only two games left in a disappointing 2023 season, the Titans will look to steal a win against divisional opponents and get their first divisional win of the season. It may be a whole new ballgame as CJ Stroud will have a chance to play this week and square off against Will Levis and company. For our full preview of the game, check out The Hot Read Podcast!
Here are 10 stats that you need to know for Titans-Texans in this week’s Titans Ten:
1. Titans Divisional Woes
Tennessee will head south for yet another divisional showdown and look to secure their first divisional win of the season. The Titans currently sit winless against their southern rivals, and the trend has gone beyond just the 2023 season. Mike Vrabel’s squad is winless in their last seven games against the AFC South, with their last divisional win coming on October 30th, 2022 against the Houston Texans. Will Levis will have the opportunity Sunday to get his first divisional career win.
2. Texans have Vrabel’s Number
Vegas has been busy monitoring the line in this specific divisional matchup, with the Titans beginning the week as +3.5 point underdogs. That number has now ballooned as high as +5.5 point underdogs and settles now at a flat +4. While Mike Vrabel has been a historically good underdog bet, trends have not been favorable to the veteran coach recently.
The one spot where Vrabel has not been a great coach betting-wise is against his own division. Vrabel in his career owns a 19-15 record against the rest of the AFC South, yet has struggled to cover. Vrabel is a mere 17-17 ATS in his career and could trend below .500, as Vrabel is 1-5 ATS in his last six games against Houston.
3. Stroud Struggles as a Favorite
This Sunday, the Titans will get their first divisional rookie showdown as CJ Stroud and Will Levis are set to take the field. This will be Stroud’s 14th start of the year and while the rookie has been a moneymaker when an underdog, Stroud has been abysmal when favored. In six games favored this season, Stroud owns a 1-5 record ATS when favored. The Titans will have the chance to stop Stroud from turning his trend around.
4. Getting after the Quarterback
Despite missing key contributors on the offensive line, the Titans have been the most productive they’ve been this season down the stretch. Their 15 sacks since Week 13 is tied for the most of any team. The Texans front five also have struggled this season, allowing 17 sacks since Week 13. Here are some players that could really make an impact this weekend:
5. Landry Makes Big Impact Late
With each passing week, Harold Landry continues to look more and more like his old self, needing just a half-sack to reach double digits again. Where Landry has shined has been late into the game, especially in the fourth quarter. Seven and a half of Landry’s nine and a half sacks have come in the fourth quarter of games this season. Landry ranks second in the league in the category, only trailing the Bengals’ Trey Hendrickson who has eight total. Landry will look to finish out the year strong and make more game-wrecking plays late in the contests.
6. Autry is Unstoppable
Despite being 33 years of age, Denico Autry has been on a historical pace during easily the best year of his career. Currently in a contract year, Autry leads the team with 11.5 sacks and has the opportunity to make history for the Titans. If Denico can get one and a half more sacks, Autry would have the most sacks by a Titans player since Jevon Keasre set the NFL rookie record with 14.5 in 1999.
7. Henry Finishing 2023 Strong
Just two weeks after Derrick Henry’s historically bad outing against this Houston team, the king will once again get a second crack at this Houston team that stifled the veteran running back in the first outing.
However, Henry has the opportunity to once again move up the record books of the NFL. Henry needs just 28 rushing yards to become the 10th running back ever to have at least five seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards and at least 10 touchdowns. Henry also will become the 42nd player ever and the second Titans/Oiler player to rush 2000 times with just a single rushing attempt.
8. Red Zone Defense Shines
Despite the Titans’ 5-10 record, the Two-Toned Blue’s defense in the red zone has been the cream of the crop in the league. The Titans have allowed 21 touchdowns this season on 55 attempts, good for a mark of 38.2 percent. Their percentage is second best this season to the Atlanta Falcons, who own a percentage of 38.1, and the Titans currently hold the fourth-best percentage in the last 10 years. It’s a double-edged sword for the Titans, however, as the 2023 squad has also allowed the most red zone trips of any team on the list.
9. DHop Heads Back to Houston
The Titans’ Deandre Hopkins will once again return to Houston to face his old Texans team. And while Hopkins publicly has denied that this game means more, it will be the first time returning as a divisional rival. Being the competitor he is, Hopkins will look to relink with Will Levis to put on a show in front of his old home crowd. Hopkins also has quite the incentive to go big in this game, only needing 61 yards to achieve his seventh season of 1,000 receiving yards.
10. The Prince Who Was Promised
Despite a slow start to the season, sophomore TE Chig Okonkwo has put together a solid second season. Chig is both second in catches and receiving yards behind veteran Deandre Hopkins and has added consistency to the position that the Titans have not had since Jonnu Smith was on the team. If Okonkwo can catch three passes this weekend, he will tie former Titan Delainie Walker for the most consecutive games with at least three receptions for tight ends. Chig Okonkwo continues to improve and has a bright future in the league.