2002 Record: (10-5) 12.29.02 | 12pm
December 27, 2002
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans close out their inaugural season this Sunday when the Tennessee Titans visit Reliant Stadium. There could not a more fitting opponent to end what has to be seen as a successful 2002 campaign for the expansion Texans. The Titans make their first trip back to Houston since 1996. Titans/Oilers owner Bud Adams moved the team after the city of Houston balked at building him a new stadium.
Six long years later, redemption is at the hands of the Houston Oiler faithful. While the Titans are a lock for the playoffs, a Texan victory would be a black eye to a team with Super Bowl aspirations. It would also give the Texans victories over the Cowboys, Steelers and Titans, something that would have seemed impossible before the start of the season.
A win this week will be tough. The Titans have won 9 of their last 10 games with the lone blemish being a one point loss to the Ravens. A win over the Texans, coupled with a Raider loss, gives them home field advantage throughout the playoffs and greatly improves their Super Bowl chances.
The Texans have the opportunity to close out their final six games at a respectable 3-3 if they defeat the Titans. They would also have defeated a playoff team and a potential Super Bowl participant.
Bottom line is the Houston fans would feel vindicated if Bud’s new team went home with one more loss. A Titans loss this weekend would kill any momentum they have going into the postseason and propel the Texans into the 2003 season knowing that they can compete with the best.
When the Texans have the ball…
Texans offensive coordinator, Chris Palmer, said last week that he has implemented about 25% of his playbook this season. Who knows what the other ¾ of the plays consist of, but it will not be revealed this week. The Texans offense amounts to a middle of the road college team at best that is easy to prepare for and easy to defense. The Titans come in ranked 11th in the league (2nd run/24th pass) in total defense. The Texans will find running the ball difficult and Jevon Kearse and Kevin Carter are two of the best pass rushers in the league. The Texans defense will be the best offense once again this week.
When the Titans have the ball…
QB Steve McNair hasn’t practiced in weeks (ribs and back), yet he plays like an Al-Pro every week. He continues to be a threat in the air and on the ground, so he must be shadowed at all times. Eddie George is still the Titans’ workhorse; in fact they are 9-1 when he carries the ball more than 20 times. The Titans will pound away at the Texans front in an attempt to control the clock. This also sets up the deep ball for Derrick Mason, who leads the team with 79 receptions for 1,012 yards. The Titans score more, and are more productive on the road, which does not bode well for the Texans.
1. Slow Eddie
Can the Texans redeem themselves after allowing two no-name Redskins to rush for 100 yards each last week? They had better, or this will get ugly and disappoint the home fans to the nth degree. McNair has been productive but he is still hurt. If the Texans can slow the Titans’ running game and force McNair to throw, then they can try and exploit his injuries. The more he gets banged around, the more likely 75-year old Neil O’Donnell is to enter the game to save McNair for the playoffs.
2. Treat this game like the playoffs
This is the Texans’ second home game to have a playoff type atmosphere. The first was their opening game victory against the hated Cowboys. The Houston fans would like nothing else than to beat Bud’s Tennessee team and deprive them of home field advantage in the playoffs.
3. Score two offensive touchdowns
Obviously, a must to win any football game, but the Texans have proven this is difficult in recent weeks. David Carr hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in five games. He is frustrated about the direction of the offense, so some success against the Titans would go a long way. The Texans can’t expect the defense or special teams to score every week; at some point, they will have to do it on their own.
Bud Adams vs. Houston Oiler/Texans fans
If not for Bud Adams, there would be no Houston Texans. Bud moved the team because he wanted the city to pay for a new stadium; in a twist of fate, this week, he gets to visit the house that was built for Bob McNair. Adams should take a look at McNair and take note as to how one can accomplish the impossible. First, McNair beat LA for rights to the 32nd NFL franchise and then he helped build the greatest stadium the league has ever seen. Adams can only think back to what was and what could have been.
Eddie George vs. Jamie Sharper & Keith Mitchell
The Texans leading tacklers will be in charge of slowing down Eddie on Sunday. George averages only 3.3 yards per carry, but has been improving his average of late. Sharper and Mitchell will need to force Eddie outside the tackles where he is less effective.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: Win, win – either we bite Bud for a perfect finish to our season or we maintain our draft position. Titans 32, Texans 19
Dave: Houston fans have already won. Texans 13, Titans 10
Jimmy: Not enough firepower to upset Bud. Titans 24, Texans 10
Keith: Texans caught looking ahead… to next season. Titans 24, Texans 13
Ric: Wouldn’t shock me if Houston pulled the upset, but, on paper, no way Tennessee should lose. Titans 24, Texans 6
Warren: Revenge will have to wait. Titans 19, Texans 17
2002 Regular Season Records
Bob 10-5; Dave 5-10; Jimmy 6-9; Keith 10-5;
Ric 10-5; Warren 8-6
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 404 212 2378 9/14 TEAM 406 214 2422 11/14 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 184 528 2.9 3 TEAM 402 1319 3.3 6 REC NO YDS AVG TD Miller 48 571 11.9 3 TEAM 214 2422 11.3 11 TITANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT McNair 470 293 3239 22/15 TEAM 477 298 3293 22/15 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD George 318 1063 3.3 11 TEAM 476 1812 3.8 15 REC NO YDS AVG TD Mason 79 1012 12.8 5 TEAM 298 3293 11.1 22 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review