Led by a familiar face, the 8-2 Tennessee Titans play host to the Houston Texans at they return from their bye week to, hopefully, turn a new leaf and show a reinvigorated spirit.
To beat Mike Vrabel's Titans, the Texans will need more than just a strong resolve and team morale. They'll need to bring their 'A' game, and be prepared for a beating.
At least, that's how Texans general manager Nick Caserio sees this Titans team.
"The team is built in Mike's image," Caserio said. "There's no question about it. Mike was one of the most mentally and physically toughest players that we had in New England (Patriots), he's very versatile, he did whatever was asked of him from the team. And they'll come out and tell you, they wanna make it basically a brawl. They want to be physical. They want to run the ball. They'll want to play aggressive. And they don't really care who the opponent is."
Caserio and Vrabel's paths crossed in New England during the latter's playing days. Both arriving in Boston in 2001, Vrabel remained in New England until 2008. Following a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, he hung up his cleats and turned to coaching.
He eventually went on to serve as linebackers coach and eventually defensive coordinator for the Texans from 2014, following which he was snapped up by the titans to serve as head coach in 2018.
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"The traits and the characteristics that are important, from a non-playing perspective, in terms of the mental and physical toughness and the characteristics you see that embodied in the players that they bring on to the team," Caserio said.
"Some of their best players embody those principles, look at a guy like (Jeffrey) Simmons. There's not a bigger badass in football than Jeffrey Simmons. He's tough as hell, he's strong as hell, he's a really good player, and he embodies everything that they want to be as a team. They want to be big. They want to be bad. They want to be physical. And the one thing about them, they're very disciplined, they don't beat themselves."
The big, bad Titans will, rightfully, come south to face David Culley's Texans as heavy favorites. Despite losing their star player in running back Derrick Henry, this team seems to be on the up having beaten both the Rams and New Orleans Saints in the past two weeks.
Can the Texans pull off an unlikely victory? Never say never.
But to do so, Tyrod Taylor and Co. would be wise to adopt the Titans' mindset that Caserio described: "We just need to do enough to win on Sunday. Doesn't matter what it looks like or how we get there."