The Tennessee Titans (2-1) have a huge divisional matchup on their hands Sunday when they take on the reigning AFC South champion Houston Texans (1-2) in NRG Stadium.
The Titans have dropped five straight games to the Texans in Houston, but are road favorites in this contest.
And ironically enough, the Texans are indirectly responsible for Tennessee being perceived as the better team today.
On November 1, 2015, the Titans entered NRG stadium bruised, battered, and banged up. Tennessee was in the midst of a five game losing streak, and rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was unavailable after being knocked out of the game against Miami a couple of weeks earlier (see my last article on the offensive line).
Controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, a Houston native, was in attendance with a full contingent of family and friends on hand to watch the game.
Well, as many Titans fans recall, the Texans beat the Titans 20-6 in a game that was not as close as the final score.
In fact, it was a bloodbath for the boys in two-tone blue. Especially on offense.
Houston sacked backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger seven times and hit him 15 times throughout the game. J.J. Watt was responsible for a record 10 qb hits alone, and registered 2.5 sacks.
Tennessee was outplayed, outclassed, and out-coached in one of the most embarrassing losses in Titans’ history.
The next day Adams Strunk, in a surprise move, fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt. General manager Ruston Webster was soon to follow.
In her statement regarding the change, Adams Strunk hinted that the current roster was ill-equipped to run Whisenhunt’s pass happy offense, and his stubborn unwillingness to make changes would ultimately jeopardize the future of her franchise quarterback.
The following offseason Adams Strunk removed the interim tag from coach Mike Mularkey while hiring first-time general manager Jon Robinson.
And the two unveiled their plans for Tennessee to become a smash mouth football team.
Center Ben Jones, right tackle Jack Conklin, running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, wide receivers Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Eric Decker, as well as tight end Jonnu Smith were all added the last two seasons under the tandem of Mularkey and Robinson.
Players that likely would have never set foot in Nashville with coach Whiz and Webster still running the show.
As a result, the Titans enter Sunday’s contest with a top five offense in yards and points scored. A far cry from the roster that went 3-20 under Whisenhunt and Webster.
Think about that, Titans fans, when you see your team run out to the field at NRG Stadium.
If not for that embarrassing beat down in November 2015, who knows if Whisenhunt would have kept his job and continued down the path the team was heading.
The Titans actually owe a thank you to the Texans for where they are today, and there’s no better way to show Houston their appreciation than to put their playoff hopes in serious jeopordy with a win.
In NRG Stadium…no less.