NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans’ standing as a team no one would want to see in the playoffs took a hit Sunday.

Eric Reid separated Anthony Firkser from an early touchdown pass and turned it into a Whitney Mercilus interception he returned 86 yards to set up a score. That was a terrible turn of events that set the game on a bad course and led to a 24-21 loss to Houston.

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If they can go win two games while Derrick Henry’s hamstring improves and they get healthier in the secondary they can certainly get back to that.

“They’re a good team,” said Kenny Vaccaro, who killed the Texans’ first drive with an end-zone interception. “It’s one of those situations where we’re trying to go from good to great. Beat them, we’re heading toward being a great team. Right now, we’re still like a good team, we’re 8-6 now. We’re still a little-bit-above-average team.” [Unlocked]

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The Titans have been too nonchalant about their kicking situation and it's got to be resolved

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Generally speaking, being like the Colts would be an accomplishment for the Titans.

Except for the one area Tennessee is managing to mimic them on some scale now isn’t the Colts' division success since 2002 NFL realignment. It’s the unreasonable dedication to their veteran kicker.

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Adam Vinatieri’s struggles crushed the 2019 Colts and he finally got moved aside before Week 14. Later he went on IR, deciding to have knee surgery he confessed he should have had earlier.

Since Ryan Succop came off IR following his difficulties recovering from early off-season knee surgery and took back his duties on Nov. 3, he has missed five-of-six field goal attempts, including a low 45-yarder that was blocked in the first quarter Sunday in a crucial game the Titans lost by, you guessed it, 3 points.

(Photo is a PAT)

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Titans keeping confidence in check, but feeling it heading into biggest game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans of recent years, no matter how good, have always been predisposed for a drop-off.

Plenty of teams can get slapped in the face in the unpredictable NFL, it’s a big part of what makes the league compelling.

But Tennessee has made a habit of appearing not to be ready for crucial follow-ups or stretches following good wins or streaks.TitanMan

After winning six of seven and sitting pretty at 8-4 in 2017, they flailed in losses at Arizona and San Francisco. The glorious overtime win over the Eagles in 2018 was quickly offset with a dud at Buffalo and two more losses. Later, the great wins at Dallas and over New England were followed by ugly losses at Indianapolis and Houston.

This surging version of the Titans could certainly lose Sunday’s crucial matchup with the Texans, but it doesn’t feel capable of a washout.

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Scout's take: Zone coverage by Titans will be tough formula to contain the Texans

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The key player for the Texans this week is WR Will Fuller. He was inactive last week vs the Broncos because of a hamstring injury.

He has fought injuries throughout his pro and college career.TexansHatch

If Fuller is healthy, the Titans will not be able to double or bracket WR DeAndre Hopkins.

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As the NFL continues to go small, Titans' Derrick Henry a huge beneficiary

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Spread concepts have infiltrated the NFL for some time now, some teams happily embracing them, some more grudgingly adopting some out of necessity due to the personnel available from the league’s college farm system.

The Titans have not really headed that direction offensively, remaining a run-heavy team and even recently returning to a share of I-formation sets with a fullback.

It turns out, however, they found the back who’s turning the league's general course alteration inside-out.
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Those smaller linebackers chasing down those smaller backs who are catching passes and even lining up wide are not nearly as equipped to handle the 6-foot-3-inch, 247-pound Derrick Henry as the sort of defenders Eddie George (6-3, 235) saw during his career were.

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In Titans' context, just how good A.J. Brown has been as a rookie receiver

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With three games left in an explosive rookie season, A.J. Brown has been the cure for a cursed position for the Titans.

For over 20 years and through 28 draft picks before him, not one draft pick at the spot for the franchise has had the sort of impact he’s having, with a remarkable 20-yards per catch average and six touchdown catches, two more than any drafted rookie for the franchise since 1997, and with three regular-season games still to go.BrownAtBatCelebrate

He’s already got the most yards, 779, for any drafted receiver for the franchise since 1997.

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OAKLAND, Calif. – When Mike Vrabel was kind enough to sit down and do a Periscope/Facebook Live with me on June 12, we joked a bit about the Titans’ generally conservative offense.

I gave him a hard time with him about my craving what many of us did: a more modern, open passing game.

Like the one we are seeing now with Ryan Tannehill putting up crazy numbers as part of an incredibly efficient and effective unit. 

[Unlocked]

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Scout's Take: Offensive line set the tone with outstanding push and control in Oakland

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans are playing four quarters and not letting up.

Offensive and defensive scores for a big win.

Another Titan turnover to start the game that turned into an opponent touchdown, but it didn’t faze the team.RaidersTitans

Derrick Henry was dominating, Ryan Tannehill was accurate and distributed the ball to a number of receivers.

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