Three straight third-quarter touchdowns broke open a close game and helped the Titans to a 33-27 victory over Seattle to move to 2-1. Trailing 14-9, the Titans pulled ahead when Marcus Mariota found Rishard Matthews for a 55-yard scoring strike. Minutes later Mariota struck again with a 24-yard touchdown score to Jonnu Smith. The streak was capped by DeMarco Murray’s 75-yard run, putting the Titans up 30-14. Murray ended up with 115 yards on just 14 carries after being questionable to play, while Mariota threw for 225 yards.
Houston lost a hard-fought battle to New England 36-33 to fall to 1-2. The Texans very nearly battled their way back to a win, rallying from a 28-20 deficit to take a 33-28 lead on a Deshaun Watson to Ryan Griffin touchdown pass and two Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal. But Tom Brady had other ideas, rallying the Patriots to a winning drive, capped by a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks with just 23 seconds to go. Watson threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns while Jadeveon Clowney had two sacks a returned a fumble for a touchdown.
In just his second career start, Deshaun Watson threw for 301 yards and two scores against the defending champions of the league. It wasn’t supposed to come this easily. Now he faces up against a Titans team that has a hard time defending the pass, as they nearly coughed up a lead to a four-touchdown onslaught from Russell Wilson a week ago. Plus Watson gets another weapon back as wideout Will Fuller plays his first game of the year.
Secondary issues on both sides
The Titans, as mentioned above, are still struggling to contain opposing passing games. The Texans are battling with the same problem. The loss of AJ Bouye to free agency and the injury to Kevin Johnson has left was once a stingy group severely weakened. Both teams like to run first to set up the pass, but Watson and Marcus Mariota might not be able to resist going after the battered back lines of these defenses.
DeMarco Murray hadn’t done much through the first two games of the season, and then was questionable all week long heading into Week 3. Many pundits predicted that the changing of the guard was in order and that Derrick Henry would be taking over. But Murray answered his doubters with an outstanding game against Seattle. The Texans play solid run defense, but it won’t be able to contain Murray and Henry at full strength.
Matchup to Watch: Texans LT Kendall Lamm vs. Titans OLB Brian Orakpo
Lamm is replacing holdout Duane Brown, and his Week 1 disaster against Calais Campbell would have ruined many players. But Lamm has played better since then and the Texans offense has righted the ship in kind. Orakpo might not be as ferocious as he once was before injuries dimmed his star, but this might be a matchup he can exploit.
Fantasy Football Tip: Titans WR Rishard Matthews
Eric Decker was the big free agent pickup and Corey Davis the hot rookie. But Matthews continues to be Mariota’s favorite wideout, leading the team with 201 yards and a touchdown through three games. He can give Texans veteran Jonathan Joseph problems in a game that might just be a shootout.
Betting Tip: Over 44
As we’ve talked about, both teams are having an awful time stopping the pass. That means that the over 44 might be the best play available from this game.
Prediction: Tennessee Titans 28-21 Houston Texans
Watson may have something good going, but the Titans offense seems well-equipped to take advantage of the Texans sudden defensive deficiencies.
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