Last updated July 31st, 2020
With the NFL season winding down, the (7-3) Houston Texans will look to continue their winning ways on tonight when they take on the (5-5) Tennessee Titans who are fighting to keep their own postseason hopes alive in the hotly contested AFC South (8:15 PM ET Monday).
Just two games separate the three top teams in the AFC South with each of that trio still alive in the race to win the division. In third place are the Titans, a team that has picked up some huge victories this year in situations where no one expected them to. Just 5-5, it’s fair to say that none of Tennessee’s wins have come easily. In fact, three of those victories (Texans, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys) came against teams with a combined 21-11 record. The other two were against teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars, who represented their respective leagues in the championship games during last year’s postseason. Needless to say, Tennessee has had a rough schedule but they’ve gotten through it better than likely anyone expected.
Take for example their game two weeks ago against the Patriots. Going into that game, New England had lost just twice and the losses came back to back during weeks two and three of the season. Following those losses, New England roared back as the team everyone expected them to be and went off on a six-game winning streak. It had been the second longest in the NFL after the team Tennessee will be facing Monday night. But despite the difficult task in front of them, the Titans played well. In fact, they played better than well, they played historically. Tennessee handed New England one of their worst losses ever in the Bill Bellichick era, absolutely dismantling last year’s Super Bowl runner-ups by a final score of 34-10. The win only put the Titans at 5-4 but it was hugely symbolic. Following prior wins over Houston, Philadelphia and Dallas, the New England victory cemented that Tennessee is a very good football team and one that could be quite dangerous in the postseason if they get there.
Houston: “Started from the Bottom, Now They’re Here”
In his song, “Started from the Bottom,” rapper Drake opens the lyrics with the phrase, “Started from the bottom now we’re here.” It is essentially a take on the rags to riches thing as Drake is saying he came from nothing only to become a success later in life. While he was talking about life and we are merely talking about one football season, there might not be a better way to describe the Texans in 2018 than with those lyrics. That is because Houston opened their year 0-3 and now they are 7-3 and first in their division.
For many, Houston’s season seemed all but over following their week three loss against the equally hapless New York Giants. Going back to 1980, that’s the last 38 years, 173 teams have started 0-3 and only five of them have reached the postseason. In case you are wondering, that’s a few ticks shy of three percent. If you compare that to teams who start 3-0 (76 percent chance of making playoffs), that’s a stark difference of about 72 percent. The last team to make the playoffs after starting winless after three weeks was the Buffalo Bills, who went on a five-game winning streak.
As the saying goes, Houston may as well have told Buffalo to “hold my beer.” Continuing the talk of phrases, the expression “hold my beer” essentially invites a game of oneupmanship and competition, whether that was the original intent or not. In this case, it’s not like Houston sought to be in competition with Buffalo, but the Bills winning streak has ended paling in comparison to Houston’s. Winners of seven in a row, it would be a shock now if the formerly 0-3 Texans did not make the postseason, especially when you see who is left on their schedule. This week’s game aside, the Texans hardest game will be against the 6-5 Colts. Other than that, they will face the 5-6 Eagles and three last place teams in their respective divisions: the Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.
Started from the bottom, and now Houston is almost back in the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Our Preview’s Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Picks & Betting Predictions
We talked about Tennessee’s big wins and Houston’s even bigger winning streak but we didn’t really touch on why these two teams have been so successful. That’s because neither team has really made their way off of big names this year. Looking at the quarterback position, you have to look to 15th to find Deshaun Watson of Houston and 28th for Marcus Mariota of Tennessee. Lamar Miller is the highest RB of the two teams and he only ranks as the 14th best in the league. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry ranks 30th. Houston does have a top-eight wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins but Tennessee’s top pass catcher only ranks top-25.
These aren’t really star-driven teams, even though all of those players named above are certainly ones NFL fans have heard of. Overall, you are looking at just the NFL’s 16th best (Houston) and 28th best (Tennessee) scoring offenses. Sometimes it’s a wonder how both have done so well this year despite not having any major difference makers.
This is going to be a tight divisional showdown between two teams that are playing well and looking to continue that success all the way into the postseason. Tennessee won the first meeting but it literally came in the second week of the season when the Texans were clearly not the same team they are now. The Titans also are dealing with Mariota’s injury which is likely not going to be 100 percent by today’s Monday Night Football. So our Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans predictions for this preview are:
- The Texans enter as 3.5-point home favorites with the USA sportsbooks and it should be a safe bet that they will cover that spread. Of course, the Titans have prevailed as underdogs before but if they are working on a less than 100 percent Mariota, pulling off that upset is going to be tough. Bet Houston -3.5pts @ best odds of -107 with BetOnline.
- With regards the second of our Titans vs Texans picks, go over 41.5 total points to be scored in this NFL matchup @ -117 with BetOnline. Otherwise the other firms, such as Bovada, are generally -110 for over 42pts.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.