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Texans vs. Titans Matchup Analysis
Matt Schaub bounced back after a tough start to last season to command the NFL's third-ranked offense. The questions about Schaub are not so much about his ability to play at a high level, but more about his ability to suit up for 16 games.
Tennessee returns Pro Bowl signal caller Kerry Collins, but he has been known to get hurt and possibly have times where he is ineffective. Behind him is former first-round pick turned bust Vince Young, as well as Patrick Ramsey.
Houston features last season's super rookie, Steve Slaton, who may have been the best first-year running back in the game. Behind Slaton is oft-injured veteran Chris Brown, Ryan Moats, and fullback Vonta Leach.
The Titans bread and butter is their ability to run the ball, seemingly against anyone. Chris Johnson earned a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie, and he's already one of the most explosive backs in the league. Lendale White is a fantastic compliment as he is a big guy with great feet, who is perfect for short yardage situations. Fullback Ahmard Hall is an underrated blocker, and the team also drafted former Michigan State standout, Javon Ringer.
Perhaps the most talented position group on the team, the Texans boast Pro Bowler Andre Johnson, who could be the very best wideout in the game. To compliment Johnson, Houston has Kevin Walter who has a knack for finding the end zone, and slot-machine David Anderson. Throw in Jacoby Jones and Andre Davis and the Texans are loaded.
The Titans wide receivers were underrated a year ago, as Justin Gage had a very nice season as he averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and scored six touchdowns. Tennessee brought in Nate Washington to be a legitimate deep threat, and spent a first-round draft pick on Rutgers' Kenny Britt.
Big edge: Texans
Houston may have the most tight end depth in the league, as Pro Bowler Owen Daniels appears to be in great shape and focused. The Texans drafted blocking end Anthony Hill and do-everything guy James Casey, and veteran Joel Dreesen could be a contributor.
Tennessee appears to be loaded at tight end as they have productive veteran Alge Crumpler backing up Bo Scaife. Aside from the two veterans, the Titans traded to acquire rookie Jared Cook who had a nice preseason.
We believe this group has the potential to be the best offensive line in franchise history. There is a question of whether or not 2008 first-round pick Duane Brown will be able to be an effective full-time left tackle, but we feel confident in his abilities.
The Titans may have the best offensive line in the NFL, led by left tackle Michael Roos. Playing opposite Roos is the underrated David Stewart, and anchoring the middle is veteran Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae. The Titans line should be fantastic again in 2009.
Big edge: Titans
Houston may have the best end in the game in Mario Williams, and free agent acquisition Antonio Smith should have a big year because of Williams. Add in second-round pick Connor Barwin and the Texans have their best group of pass rushers in team history. On the inside, Amobi Okoye is looking to bounce back from an injury-filled 2008 campaign. The team acquired former Lion Shaun Cody to go along with Tim Bulman, Frank Okam and DelJuan Robinson.
Although Tennessee lost All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in free agency, they started the process of replacing him last year as they selected Jason Jones in the 2008 draft. Defensive tackle Tony Brown was quietly dominant, and the team further strengthened the middle by selecting Auburn's Sen'Derrick Marks in the second-round. On the outside, they have one of the best pass rushers in the game in Kyle Vanden Bosch, and will play a combination of Jevon Kearse and Jacob Ford opposite Vanden Bosch.
Houston seemingly has more talented linebackers than spots for them as they have star MLB DeMeco Ryans, along with first-round pick Brian Cushing. The battle for the other outside position will be interesting, as the ultra-talented Zac Diles is coming off a broken leg, and Xavier Adibi was impressive last year as a rookie.
The Titans linebackers are mostly solid, but unspectacular with the exception of outside linebacker Keith Bullock, who is a former Pro Bowl selection. Competing for snaps opposite Bullock will be rookie Gerald McGrath and veteran David Thornton. Manning the middle is Stephen Tulloch.
If the Texans have questions on their team it's in the secondary. Dunta Robinson is the best corner the team has, possibly ever, but what kind of shape will he be in as he missed all of training camp and preseason? Fred Bennett will start opposite Robinson, thanks to Jacques Reeves leg injury. Brice McCain had a solid preseason and Antwaun Molden or rookie Glover Quin could play dime.
The Titans corners, like the rest of their defense, is rock solid. Tennessee is led by Pro Bowler Cortland Finnegan, and playing opposite Finnegan is veteran Nick Harper. Rookies Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty will be vying for playing time as well.
Big edge: Titans
The Houston safeties are possibly the weakest position group on the team as the expected starters are Eugene Wilson and Nick Ferguson. Dominique Barber will compete for playing time along with Jon Busing.
Tennessee's starting safeties both finished their seasons in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, as Michael Griffin and Chris Hope turned in fantastic 2008 campaigns. Donnie Nickey will likely account for the depth behind Griffin and Hope.
Big edge: Titans
The Texans special teams specialists are very good as Kris Brown is one of the league's most accurate kickers, and Matt Turk has a booming leg. Andre Davis and Jacoby Jones handled kickoff and punt duties respectively a year ago, and will likely serve in that same capacity again.
Tennessee has one of the best kickers in the game in Rod Bironas, and an average punter in Craig Hentrich. The return team will likely feature speedster Michael Griffin, Cortland Finnegan, and Lavelle Hawkins.
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