Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans Preview and Predictions 10-18-2020

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Perhaps the clearest confirmation of the Tennessee Titans' status as a legitimate Super Bowl contender came on Tuesday night in Nashville against the previously unbeaten Buffalo Bills.

The Titans not only looked sharp in their first game since Sept. 27, with a COVID-19 outbreak putting their season on pause following their Week 3 road victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee played with remarkable precision in all three phases, appearing in no manner disrupted by an unexpected suspension and reconfiguration of its regular season schedule.

On Sunday, the Titans (4-0) will host the Houston Texans (1-3) at Nissan Stadium, poised to maintain their early season momentum and positioned to secure a four-game lead on their primary AFC South rivals. The Texans have claimed four of the previous five division titles.

Tennessee will have to overcome the hurdle of a short preparation week while continuing to settle in on the heels of an emotional roller coaster of exacting coronavirus tests and protocols.

"I think that's what we have to do," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "You get back to work, win or lose, and still try to find ways to improve. I think that's something that we've always talked about. I think that the players understand that and appreciate that if you don't continue to improve and find ways to get better each and every week, you're not going to be where you want to be at the end of the season."

The Titans, who finished 6 for 6 in the red zone while committing zero turnovers and allowing no sacks against Buffalo, are hamstrung by the number of players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries, fullback Khari Blasingame, tight end MyCole Pruitt and defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons remained on that inactive list on Wednesday.

Tennessee did activate cornerback Kristian Fulton from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday but he was among the inactives after not practicing in advance of the contest against the Bills.

"We are hopeful that some of those players would return that are on the COVID list here in the next few days," Vrabel said.

The Titans' impressive showing against the Bills was not lost on their upcoming opponent. Given the topsy-turvy nature of a league playing under pandemic protocols, the effort resonated.

"It was a good performance by them considering what they've gone through," Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said. "They looked fresh. The time off, I think they were really excited about being back on the field. I think that that gave them a lift, finally playing a game after having one moved and one pushed back, and now we're finally on the field. So, I think that they enjoyed it and appreciated being out there."

The Texans got a jolt of adversity following their first victory Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, losing linebacker Benardrick McKinney to season-ending shoulder surgery. McKinney, a sixth-year veteran out of Mississippi State, had 37 tackles through four games this season.

McKinney, 27, amassed 330 tackles while missing only two games over the previous four seasons.

"B-Mac's obviously an energetic guy," Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. "A hard hitter. A guy who's been in the middle for us for a long time. So, it's definitely a tough loss to lose a guy like B-Mac. We're fortunate to have T.A. (Tyrell Adams) step in and play the way he did this past week (against Jacksonville) and we hope he continues to play at that level and obviously give us that energy he had all game long and continue to move forward.

"When you lose a guy like B-Mac, who's a captain, who's a guy everyone kind of looks to and respects, it's always difficult for you."

--Field Level Media


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Last Injuries

Tennessee Titans

  • Isaiah Wilson

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Wilson has been activated from the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list, and it is up in the air if he will return Sunday against the Steelers.

  • Jonnu Smith

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Smith departed the last contest with an ankle sprain, and it is unknown if he will face the Steelers on Sunday.

  • Taylor Lewan

    I-R | I-R

    Lewan has ended up on the injured reserve list with a torn ACL.

  • Corey Davis

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Davis has been activated from the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list, and it is undetermined if he will return to action Sunday versus the Steelers.

  • Darrynton Evans

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Evans is on the injured reserve list with a hamstring injury, and it is uncertain when he will be activated.

  • Chris Jackson

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Jackson missed the previous game due to a hamstring injury, and it is undetermined if he will be active Sunday versus the Steelers.

  • Dane Cruikshank

    Ques Sun | I-R

    Cruikshank has been placed on the injured reserve list due to an unspecified injury, and the team has two weeks in order to active him.

  • Derick Roberson

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Roberson has missed the past four games with an illness and a knee injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Sunday against the Texans.

Houston Texans

  • Peter Kalambayi

    Out indefinitely | out

    Kalambayi is out of commission due to a hamstring injury, and he will miss an extended period.

  • Buddy Howell

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Howell has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, and it is unclear if he will be available Sunday versus the Packers.

  • Vernon Hargreaves III

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Hargreaves III exited the last game with an unspecified injury, and it is unknown if he will face the Packers on Sunday.

  • Lonnie Johnson Jr.

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Johnson Jr. departed the last game with a facial injury, and it has yet to be established if he will suit up Sunday versus the Packers.

  • Cornell Armstrong

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Armstrong sat out the previous game with a knee injury, and it is unknown if he will play against the Packers on Sunday.

  • Jordan Akins

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Akins has missed the previous two games due to a high-ankle sprain and a concussion, and it is undetermined if he will be ready for Sunday's contest versus the Packers.

  • Isaiah Coulter

    Ques Sun | I-R

    Coulter has been sent to the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a neck strain, and it is uncertain if he will be activated in time for Sunday's game versus the Packers.

  • Benardrick McKinney

    I-R | I-R

    McKinney has been designated for the injured reserve list due to shoulder surgery.