Last week, I hit on some and missed on others in my predictions for the Houston Texans‘ season opener. I expected the two touchdown game from Owen Daniels as well as the big day from Andre Johnson. What I didn’t see coming was the need for a huge come-from-behind effort to knock off the rebuilding San Diego Chargers.
Despite all the warnings, I won’t change much this week, as I believe a character win like the one Houston had on Monday night was the kind to have the Texans fired up in their home opener against division rival Tennessee. With both teams headed in different directions and Houston being far ahead in overall roster talent,I feel like this is one of those teams they can simply out-talent if needed.
The Titans have added some quality pieces in constructing their offensive line that has been one of the worst in the league during their rebuild. This, of course, has led Chris Johnson to being viewed as a disappointment ever since getting his big pay day. But the improvement was mostly made to help in figuring out if Tennessee has their guy in Jake Locker.
While he hasn’t been awful, he hasn’t been good either.
Unable to stay healthy for a large chunk of 2012, this seems to be the make-or-break year for Locker. Year three is when a young quarterback usually has to show if he’s ready to be the face of the franchise or just another wasted high draft pick. Facing a Houston pass rush that is looking to bust loose this game, he could have to make some quick decisions, and those haven’t went well for Locker up to this point.
For Houston, the struggling offense of the Titans could be just what they need to get into their groove. In the second half against San Diego, they gave up the bad drive to start the third quarter, then allowed only 10 yards the rest of the game. It remains to be seen if they finally “turned it on”, or if that was just Phillip Rivers being Phillip Rivers.
I expect the pass rush to have better results this week with the return of Antonio Smith. The rush wasn’t bad in Week 1 as they got consistent pressure, but Rivers was getting rid of the ball so quickly that they couldn’t get their hands on him much. I expect that will change against a less experienced quarterback as Whitney Mercilus and Brian Cushing will bring him down for a sack.
Another goose egg awaits J.J. Watt in this department, but he imposes his will on the game in other way, as usual.
In the secondary, Ed Reed makes his Texans debut, but plays a light snap count. He doesn’t do anything special, but doesn’t hurt the team either. A little further over from him, Kareem Jackson records his first interception of the season and Johnathan Joseph has a solid game with some key pass breakups.
On the offensive side of the ball, Arian Foster silences his critics with his first 100-plus yard game of the year and finds the end zone once. His counterpart, Ben Tate, is solid in diminished carries, but does lose a fumble.
Matt Schaub has another good game, nothing like Week 1, but good enough to keep his detractors focused elsewhere for another week. Helping him in this is Andre Johnson, who has his usual great game against the Titans. Rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins also finds the end zone for his first career touchdown.
Tennessee is headed in the right direction, but I don’t believe they’re ready for this yet and they will fall on the road to Houston by a final score of 27-10. The Texans should enjoy this division now because Tennessee and Indianapolis are rebuilding the right way. But that’s a discussion for another time.