HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans’ Week 4 matchup with the Tennessee Titans may prove crucial to both teams’ playoff hopes for the 2017 season.
For the Texans, this may prove to be their Last Chance Saloon, as a home loss to the Titans would drop them to 1-3 and 0-2 in the division and elevate Tennessee to 3-1 and 2-0 in the division. The Titans will likely be their closest competitor for a division title assuming Jacksonville’s early form does not last, and Tennessee will be looking to distance themselves from their rivals in the AFC South.
Here are 3 bold predictions for the game:
Will Fuller V returns with a whimper
Fuller’s return from injury will hopefully provide a different element to the Texans offense. Fuller’s recovery from a collarbone injury adds real deep speed to a Texans offense lacking this irreplaceable quality in the early weeks of the season. One would hope his return would coincide with more success on deep throws, or exploitation of double and off coverages to Fuller’s side of the field to target short throws and lots of yards after the catch.
However, this writer feels that will not occur against the Titans. Rookie Adoree Jackson is one of the most athletic corners in the league despite perhaps not being of great coverage ability, so he may be able to handle Fuller’s wheels. Fuller should play in the game, but I worry he will play within himself for fear of reinjury to that collarbone.
Despite heavy usage, chart Fuller for two catches for 13 yards, with one being a screen for negative yardage. Fuller will also drop a well-thrown deep ball from Deshaun Watson. However, his presence will open up space underneath, resulting in another big day for Ryan Griffin.
Clowney gets his hands on the ball again
Clowney has had his hands on the ball in three of the Texans’ last five regular- and postseason games. The previous two weeks have brought big fumble returns, including his first career touchdown against New England last week.
This week, Clowney gets an interception, the second of his career after his game-changing play against Oakland in the divisional round last year. It comes when a J.J. Watt deflection near the goal line flies into the air, where Clowney snags the football above a leaping DeMarco Murray. In doing so, the outside linebacker ends Marcus Mariota’s streak of never having thrown a red zone interception since entering the league.
Count Clowney for a big tackle for a loss also after blowing past Jack Conklin.
Ka’imi Fairbairn breaks Texans’ record for longest field goal
Fairbairn has demonstrated his kicking prowess with his prolific touchback rate and perfect performance on field goals and PATs thus far this season.
The Texans’ field goal record stands at 57 yards and is shared by Neil Rackers and Kris Brown. During his senior year at UCLA, Fairbairn launched a 60-yard kick against Cal that cleared the crossbar comfortably. After a Texans drive stalls at the 42, Fairbairn steps up and slots a 59-yard kick, maintaining his perfect record; he finishes with two field goals on the day.