Deshaun Watson made a huge splash in the league last season, turning the boring Houston Texans into one of the most prolific offensive teams during his brief time before an injury prematurely ended his campaign. Playing his first regular season game since Week 8 of last season, Watson was rusty and so were the Texans. Fumbling a handoff on the first offensive play and throwing an ill-advised interception later was too much for the Texans to overcome as they lost to the defending AFC champion Patriots. At least all the injured players made it through the game and the Texans should be ready to take on the Tennessee Titans in their Week 2 matchup.
Kickoff for this regular season Week 2 game is set for Sunday, September 16, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET at Nissan Stadium.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Houston Texans OFF
Tennessee Titans OFF
Over/Under (Check Back Later)
Injuries always affect odds and this game is no different. With Marcus Mariota put on the shelf last week and injuries to several other key players, oddsmakers are waiting for more information before posting a line.
Delanie Walker – One of the biggest early season losses was felt by the Titans, who saw tight end Walker go down with a serious ankle injury that will likely cost him the season. The team’s leading receiver in each of Mariota’s three seasons, Walker was the security blanket on intermediate routes that are a staple of Tennessee’s offense. The Titans kept four tight ends on the roster with Jonnu Smith and Luke Stocker in line for more snaps.
Sentreal Henderson – Needing their offensive line to keep Watson upright and healthy, the group took a hit when starting right tackle Henderson was lost for the year with an ankle injury, forcing rookie Martinas Rankin into the lineup. The group allowed three sacks and 12 hits on Watson in the opener. Rankin is likely to play the left side with Julie’n Davenport sliding over the right side moving forward.
Player to Watch
Part of the reason for a coaching change in Tennessee was to get more out of Mariota’s skill set. The team brought in Scott LaFleur as the new OC, a guy who worked with Jared Goff last season and Matt Ryan in 2016. The Titans became too one-dimensional in the Mike Mularkey regime, using the ground and pound approach. While successful, it didn’t help Mariota develop and the former Heisman winner regressed last season, posting the worst numbers of his career.
There is hope that a new staff and new schemes will invigorate Mariota, but that wasn’t the case in the opener. He completed 9 of 16 passes for 103 yards and left the game with an elbow injury. He returned later and tossed two interceptions before taking a seat for good. The injury isn’t considered serious, but after throwing more picks than touchdowns last season, Mariota isn’t off to a good start with his new-look offense.
With their roster ravaged by injuries and several other players going down in this contest, the Texans were defeated by Tennessee. Tom Savage had the best game of his career throwing for 365 yards and nearly led Houston to the upset. His fourth quarter end zone interception sealed the 24-13 outcome for the Titans. Mariota ran for a score and added a touchdown pass, but Titans struggled to knock of Houston’s JV team.
With Watson, J.J. Watt and others healthy, the Texans blasted Tennessee, 57-14, earlier in the 2017 season, putting Mariota on the bench at halftime. With a chance to return the favor the Titans struggled, needing the late interception and a 75-yard Derrick Henry touchdown burst three plays later to seal the outcome.
Free ATS Pick
The Titans suffered a trifecta of injuries last week, losing three of their offensive stars. Walker, Mariota and Taylor Lewan all left the game though it appears the latter two should be back in the lineup this week. Still, it was an embarrassing game for the Titans, who made all kinds of changes to their staff to perk up the offense.
Despite their loss to the Pats, I like the Texans, and their injured players from last year all survived the opener. Watson saw little action during the preseason, so his effort wasn’t a total surprise. I expect he’ll be more like the player we saw last year in Week 2, and that’s bad news for the Titans. Houston is the pick in this one and the total should be challenged.
NFL Betting Odds: Texans 28, Titans 17
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