The Houston Texans lost star defensive end J.J. Watt for the rest of the season, but they will look to improve on their 2-1 start as they host the Tennessee Titans in a divisional matchup on Sunday. The Texans’ defensive unit already suffered the loss of linebacker Brian Cushing, although he has returned to practice and could lighten the blow of Watt’s loss if he plays Sunday.
The Texans lead the AFC South as of now, but suffered an embarrassing 27-0 shutout loss to third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the New England Patriots in Week 3. The Texans will look to bounce back Sunday against the Titans.
With Watt and potentially Cushing out, the Texans’ front seven may have to rely on Jadeveon Clowney to take on a bigger role. The third-year linebacker out of South Carolina has nine total tackles and one sack, but may draw double coverage as the Titans will seek to exploit the shorthanded Texans defensive unit.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Texans have struggled to put points on the board, as they are currently tied for the fewest points of any team so far this season. Their passing game, led by Brock Osweiler and his 72.2 passer rating, has the sixth-worst passing yard average in the league. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller has been a revelation for the Texans, however, with 12 catches, 242 yards, and a touchdown. He and DeAndre Hopkins have become a strong 1-2 punch for Osweiler, but the QB has still struggled to capitalize on his resources.
The Texans have been able to rely on their rushing game, specifically Lamar Miller, who is fourth in the league with 269 rushing yards.
The Titans enter this game at 1-2 and are hoping to rebound after last week’s 17-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The Titans’ offense has also struggled to score, as they sit on the other end of the tie for fewest points per game this season. Like the Texans, the Titans have relied on their running game so far this season to produce. DeMarco Murray has rushed for 245 yards and 6.0 yards per carry, good for eighth and fourth, respectively, among qualified running backs.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota will need to hope his offensive line gives him time against a still-tough Texans front seven. Mariota’s 723 passing yards ranks 23rd among all QBs and his TD:INT ratio is even, with four touchdowns and four picks so far. He will likely have to scramble and use his feet if he faces pressure, but Mariota still has the dual-threat ability that shined throughout his college career.
Veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson will try to put in a big performance against his former team, despite having only four catches and 39 yards so far this season. Johnson has still hauled in a touchdown this season, however, and will look to do so again against the team for which he played the first 11 seasons of his career.
Watch the game this Sunday at 1 pm on CBS. NFL Sunday Ticket is the only way to watch every game online.
How to Watch
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Place: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Announcers: Tom McCarthy, Adam Archuleta
Online: NFL Sunday Ticket