Tennessee Titans (11-5, 10-6 ATS) at Houston Texans (4-12, 7-9), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Titans Stats and Trends
The Titans are one win away from clinching homefield advantage and a bye in the AFC playoffs.
The Titans have played under the total in four straight games.
Tennessee is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games as a road favorite.
The Titans steamrolled the Dolphins for 40/198/2 rushing in a 31-point victory last week. D’Onta Foreman is the clear top option with 26/132/1 rushing on a season-high 65% snap share against Miami. Dontrell Hilliard finished with 8/45/1 rushing and he caught all three of his targets for 33 yards in Week 17 on a 24% snap share. Foreman managed just 8/40 scrimmage on a season-low 19% snap share in an extremely negative gamescript against the Texans back in Week 11. Hilliard posted 16.2 FP on a season-high 63% of the snaps in that matchup. The Titans enter as 10.5-point favorites so this week’s gamescript should be flipped, but Houston also entered as double-digit underdogs in that contests.
Ryan Tannehill hasn’t topped 17+ FP in six straight games after attempting just 18 passes last week, which he turned into 120/2 passing. He had his worst game of the season against the Texans back in Week 11, completing 35/52 passes for 323 yards (6.2 YPA), one TD, and a career-high four INTs. The Texans have allowed 18+ FP to three straight quarterbacks (Lance, Herbert, Russ) heading into the season finale.
A.J. Brown’s 16 targets in Week 16 nearly matched Tannehill’s 18 attempts in all of Week 17. Needless to say, Brown didn’t have much of a chance with 2/41 receiving on five targets against the Dolphins last week. Brown has now finished with fewer than 10 FP in four of his last five games since Week 8, including when he posted 5/48 receiving on nine targets against Houston in Week 11.
Brolley’s Texans Stats and Trends
The Texans stunned the Titans 22-13 as 10.5-point road underdogs in a game totaled at 45.5 points back in late November.
Houston is 4-1 toward overs in its last five games as a home underdog.
Davis Mills came back to earth a bit in Week 17 in a tough matchup against the 49ers after an impressive three-game run in Weeks 13-16 — he posted 15+ FP in each contest. He completed 21/32 passes for 163 yards, one TD, and one INT for just 9.9 FP in Week 17. The Titans have held four straight quarterbacks to fewer than 16 FP since their Week 13 bye.
Brandin Cooks returned to the lineup after missing Week 16 with COVID, and he posted his third straight game with 18+ FP, 7+ catches, and 65+ yards playing with Mills. Cooks posted a season-low 2/18 receiving on three targets against the Titans in Week 11. The Texans actually played from ahead for most of that game and it was played in sloppy conditions in Nashville.
Rex Burkhead erupted for 28.9 FP in Week 16 against the Chargers, and he backed it up with 16/47 rushing and 6/32 receiving in a tough matchup against the 49ers in Week 17. Rex saw 18 carries against the Titans in late November, but he turned his looks into just 40 rushing yards.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.7 (24th)
Plays per game: 66.0 (6th)
Pass: 52.4% (28th) | Run: 47.6% (5th)
Pace: 29.6 (21st)
Plays per game: 60.9 (22nd)
Pass: 56.3% (25th) | Run: 43.7% (8th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Even without Derrick Henry, the Titans haven’t altered their plan. Over the last eight weeks, they are fourth in run rate when the game is within a score and eighth when leading. With it looking extremely likely the Titans are ramping up Henry for their postseason run, this is a great spot for D’Onta Foreman and the run game. Foreman took control of this backfield last week as he handled 78% of the RB carries and got loose for 5.1 YPC. As double-digit favorites against a Texans team that is getting run on at the second-highest rate in the league (53%), Foreman has explosive upside.
Meanwhile, the bottom fell out for the Texans last week as Davis Mills struggled mightily against the 49ers. With the Titans likely taking a very run-heavy approach and the Texans potentially laying another egg here… this game is short on scoring potential.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Even though a win over Houston this week would result in a first round bye and home-field advantage as the No. 1 seed, it’s unlikely that the passing game for Tennessee will be featured. The Texans are supplying the most rushing YPG (143.4), the third-most YPC (4.7), second-most TDs/game (1.56), the second-highest missed tackle rate, and second-most FPG on the ground to RBs (18.4).
The ground game for the Titans appeared to have its A-game using a two-back rotation in Week 17, leaving Jeremy McNichols out in the cold. D’Onta Foreman’s carry share shot up to a season-high of 65%. And he posted a 26/132/1 line for 22.2 FPs in response for volume investment. With Derrick Henry potentially ready to go for the playoffs, Foreman will have one final chance to be featured in the backfield, and with significant reasons to punish the opposition.
The entirety of the Houston offense is distributed between a pitch-and-catch from Davis MIlls-to-Brandin Cooks and on the ground with Rex Burkhead. And Burkhead falls south of the cut line since Tennessee has emerged with a legitimately top-three ground defense.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Titans are in a “win and in” scenario, but for the #1 seed. If they lose and either Kansas City or Cincinnati wins, the Titans will have to play on Wild Card Weekend, but if all three lose or the Titans simply beat the Texans, the AFC playoffs will go through Nashville.
And while I seriously doubt he’ll play this week… The Big Dog is looming.
The Titans can get Derrick Henry back practicing this week and get him two more full weeks of work before the Divisional Round if they win this week… and they’ll have WRs AJ Brown and Julio Jones healthier as well. All they have to do is beat Houston, which should be likely!
Titans’ Derrick Henry got back after it today: pic.twitter.com/QdksArXemO— John Glennon (@glennonsports) January 5, 2022
Anyway, if you’ve been rolling with a Titan the last few weeks (like D’Onta Foreman), they have plenty of incentive to play this week.
As for the Texans, it’s Brandin Cooks or bust for me… as it has been for much of the season. Can you believe he’s only 28?
Brandin Cooks has six 1k seasons. His primary QB during those years:— Adam Harstad (@AdamHarstad) January 4, 2022
Dude’s had himself an interesting career.