There's plenty on the line the next three weeks and it all gets started Sunday
Deshaun Watson should eat unless Vrabel bests Bill O'Brien again
Here's a Friday Stoots Six-Pack for you to sip on ahead of Sunday's big game.
Bounce back vs the rolling Titans
The Titans have been incredible for the better part of two months. They are 6-1 in the past seven games. They are well coached, don't make mistakes, and take advantage of mistakes. Ryan Tannehill has been fantastic taking over as a starter. He has played within himself and the offense while also taking necessary chances. There has been a fair amount of luck on their side too.
The Broncos whipped the Texans. They have bounced back from every loss with a win, but this is the first road game after a loss. Every one of those games has been close with the exception of the Falcons. It would stand to reason this game is a close one too.
The Titans haven't played a close game in a month, but they have been successful with Mariota on the bench. The Texans had trouble in Nashville last year, expect this one to be a close dog fight.
A new A.J. in the AFC South
Andre Johnson was fantastic with some bad quarterbacks. A.J. Brown has finally come on late and been fantastic this season. The former Ole Miss Rebels pass catcher is coming off five catches for 153 yards and two scores. He is a chunk yardage player. If the Texans don't slow him down they are sunk. Tannehill trusts him more than anyone among their pass catchers. They don't throw it a ton if they don't have to so Brown will make the most of his opportunities.
The Henry train is hopefully pulling into the station
There might not be a running back playing better football than Derrick Henry right now. He's been incredible this season, and like last, he's been even better in the second half. The Titans have figured out their offensive line woes and Henry is a weapon unlike any in football right now. He's unique in that his power is his strength but he displays plenty of agility to his game too.
Henry has been on the injury report but expect him to play even if he isn't 100 percent. If he gets going and isn't slowed behind the line of scrimmage or directed away from his initial destination it is a big gain. The Texans miss far too many tackles and if they miss then against Henry that's going to be points not just first downs.
Missed the Mark...Andrews
Mark Andrews is a baller. He is one of the most dynamic tight ends and the best of the three tight ends the Ravens have. He was a third round pick in 2018. The Texans had two third round picks before he was selected.
The first pick went to Justin Reid. He has been a nice enough player and remember, the Texans still had Ryan Griffin when they were making those selections. They definitely needed some offensive line help, but judging by the fact they finished the draft with two tight ends, they liked a tight end or two as well.
Martinas Rankin was selected six picks before Mark Andrews.
I say all this to jump to a loosely-related point: the tight end position has been extremely hit and miss this season. Darren Fells has been a revelation, when Watson can find him. They're afterthoughts and safety valves, but rarely are focal points despite potential. When they hit though, it has been like found money.
Perhaps, though, I am being a little harsh. Around 600 yards and nine touchdowns far surpasses the output last season. On the other hand, with the wideout talent and Duke Johnson taking away attention, the tight ends feel like they should be more involved.
Oh, btw, Mark Andrews on the season: 58 catches, 759 yards, and eight touchdowns.
Watson worth trusting
Deshaun Watson doesn't get his ass kicked often. It just doesn't happen in his football career. The Titans have a nice enough defense, but Watson has a chance to light them up. Derek Carr and the paltry Raiders offense put up 21 points in the first half against the Titans last weekend.
Derek. Carr. This is Deshaun Watson we are talking about right now. Carr took advantage of a turnover for a quick score, hit a bomb after a good drive started, and handled a long drive before punching it in. They fell apart in the second but that' a Gruden and talent thing. No excuses for Watson and Bill O'Brien. This team will give up points, make sure you score them Sunday.
Mike Vrabel might be a better head coach than O'Brien
Mike Vrabel on Houston's run game: "Bill O'Brien wants to commit to the run ... they have a scheme that they wanna run, they don't try to hide what it is, they run it over and over and over. They're not afraid to repeat plays."— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) December 11, 2019
Out of the mouths of babes... pic.twitter.com/jwa8TmHjJ8
There is a chance Mike Vrabel is a better head coach than Bill O'Brien. He is working with less on offense, but more on defense this year. He had to make a quarterback change. Last year he schemed out a win over the Texans with a backup QB. He's a master motivator. The Titans play hard and don't make mistakes. That's Vrabel. O'Brien has yet win a challenge this year. He is 0-6, his worst mark since 2014. Vrabel is 3-1.
Vrabel's team started slow and has rebounded and not looked back. They haven't played a stinker in months. This will be an interesting couple of weeks with the former defensive coordinator for O'Brien matching wits on the headset.