NFL Picks: Titans vs. Texans in Week 2

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 7:17 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 7:17 PM GMT

Trailing 28-7 against San Diego in the second half, Houston looked very much like the squad which had lost three of its last four regular season games. Until they turned it around. Can they carry this juice into Week 2?

Check out our NFL Week 2 Opening Odds Report for a breakdown of this week's games!

Maturity matters...And So Does Luck

After being outplayed the larger share of their Week 1 opening game against the Chargers, the Texans never gave up and once they cut the lead to 28-14, they started to believe. "Right in the middle of the third quarter, when it was about 28-14," said linebacker Brian Cushing. "We just felt it. We felt that we could do it. Got it done." 

After the contest, reports out the Houston locker room had players saying because they had been in situations like this and succeeded, they never gave up hope.

It didn’t hurt that Philip Rivers again tossed an interception at the worst possible moment and Cushing was in position to retrieve and tied the score.

Texans Takeaways

During the telecast, ESPN’s Trent Dilfer said head coach Gary Kubiak wanted to establish a more balanced roster and did not want his team to rely on the same familiar faces as in the past and expected to implement younger players into more prominent roles.

Down three touchdowns, that strategy went out the window. Matt Schaub targeted Andre Johnson and he had 12 catches for 146 yards. Tight end Owen Daniels had five receptions and Arian Foster handled the ball a total of 23 times.

In other words, when it was crunch time, the coaches and players knew who they could depend on and did so.

Tennessee Takeaways

After the Titans finished a lackluster 6-10 campaign in 2012, once head coach Mike Munchak was certain he was returning, he wanted to shake up this club.

In his two years on the job, Munchak had felt his team was tentative more than it should. This is why he brought in Gregg Williams to be a senior assistant/defense (whatever that is.) Williams, of infamous Bounty-gate fame with New Orleans, is an aggressive coach and has a way of firing up the troops and keeping everyone edgy.

Williams does not run the defense, this is Jerry Gray’s job, but he’s brought the edge Munchak was seeking and it was on display on the road in Pittsburgh.

In his third year, Jake Locker was more polished and looked the part of a NFL quarterback. Locker will never be among the elite quarterbacks for accuracy, however, he makes big plays and as long as an offense is structured around his strengths, he and Tennessee can have success.

Matchup Numbers

Early NFL odds for this AFC South showdown listed Houston at -8.5 and after much consternation, the Texans were moved to -9.

The total has settled -at least for now- at 43. The Texans have won four of the last five get-togethers and is 4-1 ATS in the process. The SU winner is 13-1 ATS since 2006.

What to Watch For

Tennessee was able to dominate a weakened Pittsburgh offense line and held the Steelers to 32 yards rushing. Keeping the Texans under 100 yards on the ground or less than 3.6 yards a carry would be a great accomplishment.

The Titans used three tight ends 18 times in Week 1, which helped create confusion against Pitt. I fully expect to see more of this again this week, but instead, sending one of the three down the field 15-20 yards between the numbers and hash marks, trying confuse the Houston secondary, which happened a great deal in the first half against San Diego.

RB Chris Johnson did not have many holes, but has to keep running hard like he did last Sunday.

The Texans are on a short week, used a load of energy in manufacturing amazing comeback and might be a touch comfortable playing at home. Coach Kubiak will stress about being mentally prepared from the start. Foster definitely had rust coming off the injury and the coaches will not hesitate giving Ben Tate more reps as he’s a terrific change of pace.

Tennessee is not complicated on offense, thus, Houston has to outwork them in the trenches and follow their keys to lock them up.

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Final Outcome

We should expect a better effort out of Houston from the start, yet I am not convinced we will. I’ll take the points for my NFL picks and hopefully have this contest go to ten for even greater value.

NFL Pick: Take the Titans on the spread, +9 points at William Hill

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