With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the New Orleans Saints, and a Houston Texans loss to the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts were the sixth seed. In order to secure a playoff spot, Indianapolis has one more task at hand on Sunday Night Football: beat the Tennessee Titans or simply go home.
This Sunday means everything to this 9-6 team. With a win over the Tennessee Titans, they will earn a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2014. With a Titans loss, Colts will secure the sixth-seed and earn a wildcard spot. Here is where it gets interesting, with a win over Tennessee, and if the Houston Texans lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts will be crowned as the AFC South Champs.
This situation is also mirrored for the Titans, who are also 9-6 and are behind the Colts.
The Titans won their home opener without their top three defensive tackles and their starting quarterback. They also had help from some unexpected plays.
QB Marcus Mariota was out with an elbow injury from last week’s game against the Dolphins. He has not been able to grip and throw the ball well since he suffered a late hit during that game. Other injuries are also plaguing the Titans.
After being defeated 57-14 and humiliated by the Houston Texans in October, there was some talk about this game being a rematch or a revenge game. I would say it was not an even rematch.
The Texans had lost two of their brightest stars, rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson and defensive end JJ Watt to injuries. I would say it wasn’t even a revenge game. Just another divisional game that the Tennessee Titans had to win to keep hope alive to finally get into the playoffs. Something that the team hasn’t done since 2008. The Titans keep plodding along and getting unspectacular wins, but by gummies, they are getting wins.
Less than 24 hours after the city of Houston celebrated a World Series win, the fans in Houston get dealt a devastating blow. Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his ACL at practice today and is done for the season. He was on the way to having a very special season. After already losing defensive end J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus, the last thing this team needed was an injury their quarterback.
This news caps off a rather crazy week for the Texans. The Texans owner, Bob McNair, made some questionable comments last week, inferring that Texans players were “inmates”. News also broke earlier today that their division rival Indiana Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would be shut down for the rest of the season as well.
This leads us to ask the very intriguing question. Are the Jacksonville Jaguars now in a position where they could win the division?
This game was exciting, astonishing, breathtaking, dangerous, dramatic, intriguing, moving, stimulating, thrilling, electrifying, eye-popping, and mind-blowing. Or just fun. Maybe not every moment was fun, but on a whole, this game was fun.
I say that now because the Seahawks came out on top of the Texans 41 to 38. I can also say that because my heart rate has gone back to normal and I found another stash of rubber bands for the next game.
Both quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson were the talk of the game. From the opening drive where Watson threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller V, achieving something that has not been done against Seahawks defense this year. To the last scoring drive of the game where Wilson came up with another signature save.
Another tough game to watch for Browns fans. While most seemed surprised at the blow-out, if you look at their schedule up until now (Jets, Colts, Bengals), it’s only going to get harder as the season progresses. Visions of an 0-16 record loom large in the minds of even die hard fans. And the fear that getting the first pick in the draft (again) will only bring disappointment as the front office seems to struggle with player selection and analytics is very real.
Week after week fans see players the Browns released making plays, like wide recievers Willie Snead in NO or Travis Benjamin in Los Angeles for the Chargers. They see players they passed on in the draft wining games; quarterbacks Carson Wentz PHI and Deshaun Watson HOU being the most popular benchmarks so far. And they question the ability of the front office – and analytics – to put together a football team. Rightfully so.
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When your team loses this bad, it makes you overthink everything. How in the world could they just play so bad for four quarters and not make any adjustments to turn the tide? I hope the team regroups and reassembles and rises out of the ashes like a phoenix. Or like an NFL team with a will to win like the team that played against the Seattle Seahawks last week.
The tone of the game was set right from the start when quarterback Marcus Mariota threw a pass that was intercepted by Texan safety Andre Hal in the first quarter. Except for the two touchdowns Mariota ran in himself, there just were not many plays by the Titans that were anything to get excited about.
Mariota suffered a hamstring injury during his second touchdown run and did not return to the game. Matt Cassel was in at QB in the second half of the game and this was not a good look at all. Cassel had three turnovers and zero points…the turnovers added 13 points for the Texans. Lawd, have mercy, what a mess.
I kept hoping that the Titans would get a run game going, that running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry would be able to get some touchdowns since Cassel wasn’t exactly throwing the football where he needed to be throwing it, but it wasn’t to be.
The Titans defense had no answer to the Texans’ rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson who had five touchdowns. Embarrassing. The Titans didn’t seem to have an answer to the Houston’s wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins either. Tennessee rookie cornerback Adoree Jackson had a rough time covering Hopkins (maybe the height difference hindered him) and why defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau did not move the more experienced cornerback Logan Ryan to cover Hopkins earlier is questionable. The Titans defense was just absent. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey got his first QB sack this season and safety Kevin Byard got his career first interception, but that was about all folks.
In his Monday press conference, head coach Mike Mularkey revealed that Mariota has a hamstring sprain and may be able to play this Sunday in Miami against the Dolphins. His status is officially “day to day.” In addition to Mariota’s injury, Mularkey said that he doesn’t expect safety Johnathan Cyprien or wide receiver Corey Davis to play this next Sunday due to hamstring injuries.
The Titans are still at the top of the AFC South, 2-2 the same as the Texans and Jags, with the Colts at the bottom. The Titans play the Texans again in December, so the coaching staff has plenty of time to come up with a new plan for that match up.
The Titans are on the road again for their next matchup, traveling to Miami to face the 1-2 Dolphins, who lost to the New Orleans Saints 20-0 last week. So this matchup involves two teams with embarrassing losses that most likely will be trying their best to play hard to save face and get back on top of their game. Per TitansOnline:
We are already on to Miami,” Mularkey said. “We’re trying to get the taste out of our mouths. We have a lot of football left. There’s seven 2-win teams and six 3-win teams and we’re right in the middle of them in this first quarter of the season.”
This fan is ready for all of the Titans players to get healthy and work together as a well oiled machine. This loss was not fun. It hurt to watch the guys out there after allowing a 30-point first half with no adjustments and no answers to the Texans’ pounding. For the December 3 re-match the coaches better have a plan! The Dolphins are up next so time for a total turn around by all three parts of this Titans organization.
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After another slow start with a score of 9-7 at the end of the first half, the only Titans’ scores coming from three field goals from place kicker Ryan Succop; the Titans finally got the train rollin’ in the third quarter. In that respect, this game was eerily similar to the previous game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with very little action in the beginning and then a whole lot of excitement at the end.
The best Tennessee plays in the beginning ended up being taken away. Wide receiver Eric Decker made a great sideline catch with some “toe drag swag” as Good Morning Football Show would say, keeping his toes in bounds and getting a first down during the first quarter. Decker would later be called for a holding penalty so a touchdown run by quarterback Marcus Mariota was called back.
Cornerback Adoree Jackson had an 80 yard punt return for a touchdown that was overturned due to an illegal block by running back David Fluellen in the second quarter. The call was a bit on the “iffy” side in my opinion. It looked like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin actually ran into Fluellen, but I’m not an NFL referee. Sure would have been lovely to have those two touchdowns light a fire for the Titans.
In a game where both the offense and defense seemed to struggle, the Patriots pulled out a win on yet another quarterback Tom Brady game winning, game ending drive (the 50th in his career). Brady connected on a 25 yd pass to speedster wide reciever Brandin Cooks, who made a spectacular catch to put the Patriots ahead 36-33 after the successful 2 point conversion attempt, leaving the Texans with 23 seconds left for Houston Texans’ rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to make something happen. It wasn’t meant to be.
This wasn’t one of the Patriots’ best games, and as I mentioned last week, the Texans’ defense is tough – they’re big and they’re fast, and even with their starting secondary depleted, they managed to give Patriots receivers a difficult time. Thoughts on this game….
The Offensive Line needs to do a LOT better than they did this week. Brady was sacked 5 times in the game on Sunday for a loss of 41 yds, and honestly, every time Brady caught the snap, I was afraid for him. Tackle Nate Solder especially seemed unable to block the quick Texan defense. Not only was Brady sacked, but he was hit 8 times, including a hit taken when guard Joe Thuney was run over on the pass to Cooks for the touchdown.
Running game was virtually shut down by the Texans’ defense. Only 59 yds rushing and no rushing touchdowns. Offensive line play definitely contributed to the problem here.