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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Tennessee 20, Houston 24

This match-up of the AFC South light-weights could go in many different directions depending on which Titan team shows up. The Texans have yet to show much offensive push this year other than a slightly improved ground game last week and the Titans vary between being a team that cannot score to one that uses creative offensive schemes to win. The Texans are getting hungry to notch their first win of the season and playing at home should be just enough to get it done.

The Texans swept the Titans in 2004, winning 20-10 on the road and later 31-21 while at home.

Update: Drew Bennett has been held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a bruised knee and a sore arch. He is listed as questionable to play on Sunday against the Texans. Bennett has been banged up most of the season and while he may still play, I am lowering his projections. He could end up as a game time decision and he if he does play he will not be 100%. Realize that you are not safe starting him until he makes the active list for the game and even then, he'll likely be limited.

Erron Kinney is also questionable to play and has not practiced Wednesday or Thursday due to a chest injury. Like Bennett, he has a chance of playing this weekend anyway but you will not be safe starting him until he makes the active list. I am lowering his projections as well and realize that both Bennett and Kinney carry at least some risk of not playing this week. They most likely will suit up, but would be limited to some degree.

Tennessee Titans (1-3)
1 7-34 @PIT 10 Open Bye
2 25-10 BAL 11 Nov 20 JAC
3 27-31 @STL 12 Nov 27 SFO
4 10-31 IND 13 Dec 4 @IND
5 Oct 9 @HOU 14 Dec 11 HOU
6 Oct 16 CIN 15 Dec 18 SEA
7 Oct 23 @ARI 16 Dec 24 @MIA
8 Oct 30 OAK 17 Jan 1 @JAC
9 Nov 6 @CLE . . SAT
TEN at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 20 0 220,2
RB Chris Brown 70 20 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 30,1 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 20 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 50 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 20 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 50,1 0
PK Rob Bironas 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Titans haven't won on the road this season and come off a thrashing by the Colts that finally gave them a defense they could explode against. The Titan passing game has turned into pitch and catch with a litany of tight ends and Chris Brown couldn't get on track last week. The Titans have a fairly soft schedule coming up other than a game against the Bengals but so far the new offense hasn't produced many results.

Quarterback: After four games, Steve McNair has remained pretty consistent in games for 2005. He's remained around 220 yards or so every week with one touchdown and one interception. What he added to the equation last week was finally taking off on a few scrambles when he rushed four times for 40 yards. McNair is hampered by having no real wideouts for the first time in his career. Drew Bennett is miscast as a #1 receiver and only the rookie Brandon Jones has stepped up to help.

McNair was the starter in both games against the Texans last year and threw for 210 yards and one score at home. Playing in Houston, McNair had 227 yards and three scores.

Running Backs: Going against the Colts last week, Chris Brown ran only ten times for 31 yards and added two catches for 17 more yards. Twelve touches will hardly produce a ground game but against Indianapolis, the score get away so quickly that Brown was removed from the game plan. Jarrett Payton filled in for the missing Travis Henry and had 37 yards on four runs that were late in the game and relatively meaningless.

The Titans did not rush well against the Texans last year and Chris Brown only had 52 yards in the first meeting. By week 12, Brown was sidelined and Antowain Smith gained 90 yards but never scored. This is still easily the best chance that Brown will have of turning in a decent game this season.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett ended with only two catches for 20 yards and he dropped another pass near the goal line. Other than his 96 yard effort against the Rams, he's been little more productive than an average #2 wideout for a team which is what he should be all along. Brandon Jones only had 22 yards on three catches and had replaced Tyrone Calico as the starting split end but hasn't had more than 40 yards in any game so far. This too should be the best week for Titan wideouts so far this year.

Tight Ends: With the wideouts being unproductive last week, McNair has been turning to the tight ends to help out and used three against the Colts. Erron Kinney (7-42), Ben Troupe (4-34) and even the rookie Bo Scaife (7-39, 1 TD) combined to give the Titans a way to move the ball. Problem is - there is no single reliable tight end on the team because each has had at least one game of 20 yards or less. Troupe has two scores which leads the team but he has less yardage than Kinney. Scaife only had catches in two of the four games.

Match Against the Defense: Brown could rack up some decent yardage here against a defense that has allowed every team to rush for at least 94 yards though only one runner has ran in a score against them. Expect that Brown turns in at least a moderate game with an upside for better than average. As always, most teams just pass to get touchdowns against the Texans, so any score by Brown would be a surprise.

McNair brings his multi-receiver offense to Houston and faces a secondary that has allowed at least one score in every game and that has yet to gain even one fumble recovery or turnover. The Texans secondary is better than last year so far and had only given up big games to Hines Wards and Houshmandzadeh but there is no truly weak side here. That should mean Bennett will get the most passes and may hang on to several of them. Figure him for only a moderate game here against a team that is getting desperate and which is playing at home. More than likely, McNair will revert to his scheme of throwing a lot of passes to a lot of players with no single player having a big game.

Houston Texans (0-3)
1 7-22 @BUF 10 Nov 13 @IND
2 7-27 PIT 11 Nov 20 KCC
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 STL
4 10-16 @CIN 13 Dec 4 @BAL
5 Oct 9 TEN 14 Dec 11 @TEN
6 Oct 16 @SEA 15 Dec 18 ARI
7 Oct 23 IND 16 Dec 24 JAC
8 Oct 30 CLE 17 Jan 1 @SFO
9 Nov 6 @JAC . . SAT
HOU vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 0 0 220,2
RB Domanick Davis 90,1 30 0
TE Matt Murphy 0 10 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 40 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 50,1 0
PK Kris Brown 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Texans dropped their third game of the year when they went to Cincinnati last week but at least they held them to only 16 points - the best defensive effort of the year. And the Texans scored 10 points - sadly the best offensive effort of the year. Houston is working on their second offensive coordinator of the season and the results last week were a little encouraging. There's no fear that Houston is about to become a offensive powerhouse but back at home against a soft defense like Tennessee, they should post their best points of the year - not that the bar is very high.

Quarterback: The week off and a new coordinator didn't do much to increase any numbers for David Carr who ended with only 174 yards and one score against the Bengals. That only tops his previous best of 167 yards and he has managed to lose one fumble in every game this year. The point of the new offense was supposed to be involving Andre Johnson more but Carr still only threw him six passes - same as every other game.

Carr threw for 266 and 201 yards against the Titans last year and never had more than two touchdowns in a game.

Running Backs: The only notable improvement for the Texans is Domanick Davis rushing the football. He gained 81 yards on 19 carries last week for a season high but he still has only one touchdown - receiving no less - on the season. Davis has only seen four carries go to another runner (Wells) this season but then again, he has yet to run more than 19 times in any game.

Davis ran for only 25 yards in the game at Nashville but later had 129 yards and one score while in Houston against the Titans.

Wide Receivers: Andre Johnson had a season high last week but that only meant he had three catches for 38 yards - hardly cause for celebration or reducing the concern that the passing game has spawned in 2005. Johnson has only caught 10 passes for 76 yards and no scores after three games this year. Jabar Gaffney led the team with six catches for 88 yards last week when he took over the flanker role. He is benefiting from the attention that Johnson gets but he's never been consistent enough to warrant much fantasy attention.

Andre Johnson only had games of 66 and 34 yards in the two meetings against the Titans last year though he scored once in the home game.

Tight Ends: There were no tight ends with receptions last week and there has yet to be a game where a tight end has more than one catch. Forget about this crew - the Texans already have.

Match Against the Defense: This depends on which Titan defense shows up. They have been torn up by most runners this season and Domanick Davis is gaining steam now. Expect that the Texans want to see the running game work and that Davis has his best game of the year so far. He's probably only 50/50 on scoring a touchdown but he should come up with 100 yards at least with adding in receptions. If he was to have a monster game any time soon, it would be here but until the passing game commands a little respect, figure on Davis to be prevented from long gainers.

Carr should also see his best game of the year this week though it would not take much. The Titans have allowed every opponent to score through the air and all but one has scored twice that way. This is the defense that has allowed every opponent other than Baltimore to score at least 31 points in the game. The best success that opponents have had is with throwing to wideouts and six different ones have already scored against Tennessee this season. If you were waiting to start Andre Johnson, this may be as good as it gets from him. Expect at least a moderate game from Johnson with a shot at a legitimate, great game.