FBG says: Neutral matchup. The Texans ground game has taken a step back in recent weeks with their combination of running backs failing to eclipse 90 rushing yards for three straight weeks. Carlos Hyde continues to lead the way with touches as he out-carried Duke Johnson 14-to-1 last week, but Hyde has failed to eclipse 75 rushing yards since their Week 10 bye and has visibly slowed since his hot start to the year. Workload also has a part to play in Hyde's lack of success, as he has averaged just 12 carries per game in the last four weeks after starting the season with an average of just under 17 carries per game. Duke Johnson started gaining steam with more involvement on the ground in recent weeks, but last week's one-carry performance reminded everyone of his lack of involvement as a rusher in this offense. Deshaun Watson found the end zone twice on the ground last week as he added 44 rushing yards, with almost all of it coming in garbage time. Watson cooled off for a few weeks with 12 or fewer rushing yards in each of his preceding three games, but he has now rushed for over 30 yards in seven of 13 games this season and is tied for the second-most rushing touchdowns (7) amongst quarterbacks.
The Titans run defense has softened up during the second half of the season, ever since they allowed 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Christian McCaffrey in Week 9. In those past five games, Tennessee has allowed opposing running backs to average 99 rushing yards per game with six rushing touchdowns, good for the fifth-most fantasy points per game since Week 9. While they have given up at least one rushing touchdown in three straight weeks, this defense has played better in their last two games as they have held backs to just 3.6 yards per rush attempt. Top run-defending lineman Jurrell Casey was banged up during part of that rough patch against the run, but he is now back to near full speed. Linebacker Jayon Brown has also picked up his play as the season has progressed, blossoming into an above-average linebacker in his third year with the Titans. The Texans offensive line has done a decent job in run-blocking, but they will be tested here in their first matchup of the season with the Titans. This Titans team has also yet to allow a rushing touchdown to quarterbacks with just one quarterback rushing for more than 30 yards against them this season. While Deshaun Watson remains an elite rushing threat, he at least shouldn't be able to run wild with ease against this defense.