The Titans are 1-0 in the AFC South and 2-1 overall. They could go to 2-0 inside the division if they can record their second consecutive road victory, by winning in Houston, where they have lost five straight times.
Here are the Titans five keys to defeating theTexans on Sunday:
1. Watch Watt, and maybe watch Clowney even closer. J.J. Watt does not have a sack yet this season after missing most of last year with a back injury. Watt has been a menace to the Titans in previous years, when their offensive line was much more Svitekian than it was last season. Meanwhile, Clowney has developed into a Pro Bowl player in his own right. Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin will have to single block those two at times on Sunday and have to win their matchups.
2. Contain DeShaun Watson. Watson is still a rookie and can be goaded into rookie mistakes, which could end up being the difference in the ballgame. But, if he takes care of the football, he has shown already that he has playmaking potential as a dual threat. The Titans can’t let Watson get loose. They must make him be a passer first in situations where they rush him, much like they did with Russell Wilson last Sunday.
3. Keep on trucking. The Titans offense has gotten on track the past two games, rushing for 179 yards vs. Jacksonville and 195 against Seattle. What may be even better is that Derrick Henry carried the load one week when DeMarco Murray had a hamstring issue, and Murray bounced back against he Seahawks to run for 112 yards and a 75-yard TD run. The Titans need to win time of possession and grind on the Texans defense to keep them honest.
4. Win the special teams battle. Special teams unraveled last year in Houston for the Titans when Will Fuller returned a punt for a deciding touchdown. This time, the Titans have the more explosive weapon in Adoree’ Jackson, and the performances of punter Brett Kern and kicker Ryan Succop have been darn near perfect in the early going. The Titans could use a big play or two from this unit on Sunday.
5. Avoid the distractions. This week has been filled with the fallout of the anthem protests, and nowhere it seemed was there more scrutiny on the topic than with the Titans. There was Rishard Matthews’ comments to ESPN about kneeling until the President apologized. There was Eric Decker’s wife saying her husband wanted to stand for the anthem but didn’t know about the decision to stay in the locker room. And worst of all, there were the unbelievable death threats against tight end Delanie Walker over comments he made last Monday. If the Titans can put all that aside on Sunday and focus on what is at hand, then that is a credit to the locker room cohesiveness and the coaching staff.