The departure of Josh Reynolds was always a possibility once the Titans had traded for Julio Jones, but with the experienced wide receiver now playing in Detroit, Tennessee are technically a little weaker in terms of depth as they go into a crucial period for their play-off chances. 

Titans Versus Texans: An Enduring Rivalry

There may be more high-profile rivalries in the NFL, but few are as bitter or intense as that between the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans. 

The enmity is well rooted and dates back to 1996, when the Houston Oilers left Texas to become the Tennessee Titans. 

Subsequently, Houston formed a new team, the Texans, and the feud was launched. It has been so intense at times that players have fought on the field, and the battle for supremacy in the AFC South is always fierce. 

Last season produced two classic matchups with extremely close finishes. In October 2020, the visiting Texans led 36-29 with just seven seconds remaining but a direct snap touchdown run by Derrick Henry snatched victory for the Titans. 

In the return game, the Titans won again, this time thanks to a Sam Sloman field goal, which earned them a 41-38 victory.

This season, however, the two teams are a little further apart. The Texans’ poor start to the campaign means that the Titans are a short price to win this game, with many of the leading sportsbooks found on confident in offering long odds on the Texans finding a win here.

They are also the bookies’ overwhelming favorite to win the AFC South. But bookies and sports fans alike know that the NFL is an unpredictable tournament. 

Titans’ Injury Curse

Julio and AJ Brown are big losses for the Titans
Photo Credits: Yahoo! Sports

It is rare for any NFL team to escape significant injury problems during the course of a season, but even by the league’s standards, the Titans have endured a nightmarish run of injury luck. 

As of Week Nine, they were the most injured team in the league. Going into Week 10 of the NFL, they had an astonishing 17 players injured, ill or in doubt, amounting to around a third of the entire roster. 

Interestingly, that list included A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, two of the team’s main receivers. In fact, so far this season, the Titans have not been able to call upon the four main receivers: Jones, Brown, Chester Rogers and Marcus Johnson, in a single game. 

All of this highlights the potential impact of the departure of Reynolds, waived earlier this month. Signed effectively as cover, and before the high-profile trade for Jones, he was only ever a back-up player, but he was a reliable option.

Waiving him was the right thing to do from the perspective of his career, giving the 26-year-old the chance to play on a regular basis, but it could potentially come back to haunt the Titans if their injury problems continue to mount. 

Reynolds was not a star, but he was a reliable receiver, recording 10 catches in five games earlier this season. In the short term, the Titans will continue to be a rush-orientated offense. 

They are currently ranked third in the NFL for rushing yards, yet 22nd in passing, and while that has not stopped them dominating their division, they will want to improve that passing record to give Ryan Tannehill more options as the second half of the season progresses and the play-offs loom. 

Titans on the Rise

Can Tannethrill keep the Titans ship upright?
Photo Credits: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Given their injury problems, the fact that the Titans go into Week 10 with a 7-2 record is remarkable. There have been a number of factors at play here. 

Defensively, their stats remain relatively poor, but there has been a clear improvement in defensive approach under Shane Bowen and the defensive unit has been steadily raising their game, so further development can be expected. 

Tannehill has also been an immense presence for Tennessee. His record since becoming starting quarterback is an excellent 25-10 and his ability to make the right play, to pick up roughing penalties at the right time and to drive his team forward has consistently been of the highest level. 

That he has been able to maintain those standards despite never having a full unit of wide receivers available is remarkable and the Titans will be desperately hoping that the injury curse does not affect their on-field leader. 

The State of Texas

Photo Credits: Godofredo A. Vásquez, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Yet even with their injury-related bad luck, the Titans have little to fear from their fixture against the Texans, currently one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Pick a stat – any stat – and the Texans will be in the bottom 10. Their strongest suit seems to be pass defense, but even then, they rank only 24th in the league, and the rush-heavy Titans will not be playing into their hands. 

Going into Week 11, the Texans have a 1-8 record. That single point came in their first game of the season when they beat the Jaguars. Since then it has been nothing but misery for Texans fans. Five times in the last eight games, they have failed to reach double figures and their low point was a 40-0 loss to the Bills. 

After the chaos of last season and despite the problems still hanging over the franchise, the Texans had hoped that a significant overhaul would produce a culture change, but even if that has worked off the field, there is no sign of a revival on the field. 

That may yet come, and after all, they can only get better, but this season is a write-off already and the Titans should have no problem picking up a win in Week 11. 

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