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NFL Week 11 GAMEDAY: Can Houston Texans Challenge Titans?

The Houston Texans face the Tennessee Titans as heavy underdogs

Fresh off a much-needed bye week, the Houston Texans travel to Tennessee to take on the Mike Vrabel-led Titans.

In their first matchup of the season, these AFC South rivals will be battling it out on Sunday with very different end goals in mind. Houston will be looking to save face and avoid losing their ninth straight game, while the Titans are trying to win their seventh straight game and keep control of the division lead.

RECORDS: Texans (1-8), Titans (8-2)

ODDS: The Texans are 10-point underdogs. Over/under is 44.5. (Per SI Sportsbook)

STAT: Houston has won 17 of the 38 games against the Titans, but has lost three straight against the former Houston-based franchise. 

The Texans' last victory against Tennessee came back in 2019 when Bill O'Brien was at the helm, by a score of 24-21.

FUN FACT: Over the course of the last two seasons, these teams have met four times, with the Titans outscoring the Texans 118 to 88. During these games, the star of the show has consistently been Titans running back Derrick Henry who has rushed for a meager 673 yards and seven touchdowns.

Henry is currently injured and unavailable today.

On the downside for the Texans, the Titans still have a productive group of backs, including former Texan D'Onta Foreman and former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.

Oh, and the Texans currently have one of the league's worst run defenses, having allowed 1,232 yards and 15 touchdowns.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Lovie Smith, the Houston coordinator, still doesn't appear to have found a secondary lineup he's completely content with, given the number of changes they've made throughout the season. 

The latest player to be moved is third-year defensive back Lonnie Johnson who will now be returning to cornerback. Johnson was moved from corner to safety in his second season, but it's been a rocky road for the former second-rounder who will now have to re-adjust to his old/new position.

Worth mentioning: his first week back at corner will involve covering, amongst others, A.J. Brown who has averaged 111.8 yards per game against Houston.

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The move means Eric Murray will continue to be featured heavily at safety, and the likes of A.J. Moore may see more game time.

Sticking with the defense, sack leader Jonathan Greenard has been ruled out. Given that Charles Omenihu was recently traded to the San Francisco 49ers and Whitney Mercilus was released, Houston's options at the position behind Greenard are slim.

HOUSTON'S KEY TO VICTORY: If the Texans are to have any chance of pulling off an unlikely victory, they need quarterback Tyrod Taylor to step up.

Prior to his injury, Taylor was playing some of the best football of his career. He then missed six and a half games and returned against the Miami Dolphins where he threw three interceptions, completed just 55.8 percent of his passes, and threw zero touchdowns.

Hopefully, a week off to recover and work out the kinks will have done him the world of good and he can return to his early-season form.

Overly optimistic? You bet, especially given that the Texans haven't scored a touchdown on the road since Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. But never say never.

GAME TIME: 12:00 p.m. CT, Sunday, Nov. 21

LOCATION: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee

TV/RADIO: CBS, Sports Radio 610, 100.3 The Bull, Mega 101 FM

THE FINAL WORD: Anything can happen in the NFL, and this season more than most, has been proof of that. One week teams look like Super Bowl contenders, the next their form disappears - look no further than the Titans, with one of their losses this year having come against arguably one of the league's worst teams, the New York Jets.

Could the Texans pull off an unexpected victory? Could they find some form after a week off?  

If they do then they'll have regained some pride and respect given the level Tennessee has been playing at.

If not, well, then we're one week closer to the 2022 NFL Draft and that can only be a good thing for this team.