Texans vs. Titans 2012 game preview: Jake Locker plays his best football in Tennessee

Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Second-year quarterback Jake Locker has a 102.7 passer rating in home games at LP Field.

Although the Texans needed overtime to beat both the Jaguars and the Lions, the team still earned wins to improve to 10-1 and take a commanding lead in the AFC South. With three games over the Colts and five games left to play, the Texans need just a couple more wins to lock up a second consecutive division title and continue to have a stranglehold on the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Titans couldn't be in a more different situation after having lost to the Jaguars in Week 12. Barring a win on Sunday and a streak of wins in the weeks that follow, the playoff hopes for the Titans are pretty bleak. After firing offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, the Titans may be approaching a firing for head coach Mike Munchak as well if the team can't turn things around soon.

Meet the Titans

While Jake Locker has been decent for the Titans in his six starts, the team only has a 2-4 record this season with the 2011 first round draft pick. At home, though, the second year quarterback has played especially well. In two starts at home, Locker has completed 52-of-74 passes for 607 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The young quarterback could use a performance from Kenny Britt like his last game against the Texans. The receiver caught six passes for 128 yards against the Texans in a 31-17 victory.

On defense, the Titans were very strong against the Jaguars up front in Week 12. The line recorded seven sacks, with rookie linebacker Zach Brown contributing two to the Tennessee sack total. It was a solid defensive stats for a unit that has struggled in 2012, allowing the second most points in the NFL through 12 weeks. Only twice have the Titans held an opposing offense under 24 points.

Meet the Texans

The Texans are a run-first team that relies on production from Arian Foster to be successful; however, the team has received solid play from Matt Schaub in 2012. The veteran quarterback has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,855 yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Despite that, the main focus for the Titans will be to try and stop Foster. That's easier said than done, as the two-time Pro Bowler leads the league in touchdowns with 12 and has six straight games with more than 90 yards rushing.

Perhaps the most impressive player on the Texans in 2012, though, has been defensive end J.J. Watt. In his second season in the NFL, Watt has already developed into one of the league's most dominant players and has already earned the team record for sacks in a season. With 14.5 sacks, Watt leads the AFC and anchors a defense that ranks No. 6 in the NFL in both scoring and total defense. In the last matchup between the Texans and Titans10, both Kareem Jackson and Danieal Manning returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Local Takes: Titans

SuperHorn from Music City Miracles says that the Titans should add more no huddle to the offense to accommodate Jake Locker:

In any event, I'd like to see the Titans throw in some mixes of the no huddle (or run it as a base offense) moving forward. Locker appears comfortable in this setting, and, in many ways, it makes things easier on a young quarterback.

Local Takes: Texans

Brett Kollman from Battle Red Blog is very optimistic about the future of rookie Whitney Mercilus:

Overall, I am pleased with how Mercilus has evolved since the beginning of the season. He still has his issues, of course, but the talent is there. Every now and then, he flashes brilliance that takes even the most diehard Mercilus supporters by surprise. His speed, power, and insane lateral agility are not to be trifled with. Once he starts playing with the reckless abandon that J.J. Watt brings on every snap and worries more about making an impact rather than just not screwing anything up, he will be a force in this league. I promise you that.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Battle Red Blog and Music City Miracles, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

Music City Miracles manager @JMorrisMCM

@BattleRedBlog

Titans beat writer, @JWyattSports

Texas beat writer, @TaniaGanguli

Prediction

From the Week 13 picks:

Our Titans blog is writing "Why Mike Munchak should be fired" pieces. That can't be a good sign. The Titans fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer after losing to the Jaguars last weekend, the same Jaguars who nearly beat the Texans.

The pick: 34-10, Texans

Odds

After opening as a 5.5-point favorite, the Texas are now a touchdown favorite and favored by as much as 7.5 points in some sportsbooks, according to OddsShark.

Next Week

The Titans will travel for another divisional game in Week 14 when it faces the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Texans will also be on the road, but it'll be in one of the games of the week when the Patriots host the Texans on Monday Night Football.

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