Texans-Titans Preview: 2014 Season on the Brink

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Three weeks ago the Texans sat at two games over .500, ready to attack a difficult upcoming three-game stretch that would define the first half of the season.

All three games would be against playoff contenders and/or played in a tough environment in prime time. Despite showing some fight in each of the three games, the Texans were unable to get a win in any of the three -- a 20-17 overtime loss in Dallas, a 33-28 Thursday night home loss to the Colts and a 30-23 mistake-fest Monday night in Pittsburgh.

So after a three-game losing streak, the Texans sit at a game under .500 now with a game this weekend against a team that will give them an opportunity to "get well," the Tennessee Titans.

If this entire arc of a scenario looks familiar, it should.

Last season, after the first two weeks of the season, the Texans were two games over .500.

They then played three games against playoff contenders and/or in tough prime-time environments. They lost all three games -- 30-9 in Baltimore, 23-20 in overtime versus Seattle and a 34-3 thumping in San Francisco -- amid a deluge of their own self-inflicted wounds (including a pick six from Matt Schaub in each game, a tradition like no other!).

Sitting at one game below .500, the St. Louis Rams came to town in a game that everyone thought the Texans would win (they were 9.5 point favorites) and even their record at .500, getting them back on track for a second half of the season run toward the playoffs. Yeah, how did that go?

Rams 38, Texans 13. And the game, oddly enough, wasn't even that close.

At 2-4, the season was officially spinning out of control, and the next game, a trip to Kansas City to take on the then-undefeated Chiefs, marked the de facto end of Matt Schaub as a starting quarterback for the Texans (he'd start a couple of meaningless December games) and the transition (for a few weeks, at least) to Case Keenum.

Ten weeks later, the Texans finished 2-14, and we were all surfing Clowney highlight porn on the Internet.

At 3-4, a Houston loss to Tennessee on Sunday would undeniably send these Texans into a similar downward spiral as 2013, perhaps not a perpetually defeated sweep of the board like 2014, but surely a dark place involving no January football and a top 10-12 pick in the NFL Draft. And, like 2013, it might hasten a change at the quarterback position, from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Ryan Mallett.

See, there were reasons this all felt so familiar.

Now, I don't think there's a 38-13 ambush awaiting the Texans in Nashville. Truth be told, I don't even think there's a loss waiting for them. And it's mainly because this guy will be starting at quarterback for the Titans:

Yes, this guy....

I said, THIS GUY...

I mean, damn, what must it be like in the Titans' QB film room...

You have THAT guy at quarterback throwing to a receiving corps whose top targets are Delanie Walker (31 catches), Justin Hunter (16 catches) and Kendall Wright (32 catches averaging under ten yards a catch), and a rushing game led by something called a "Bishop Sankey."

On top of that, the Texans likely will see the return of first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, at least in obvious passing situations, which should make life even tougher on Mettenberger, whose mobility rates somewhere between a redwood tree and Matt Schaub.

''By no means am I a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning,'' Mettenberger said on Thursday. ''This is going to be my first game, so really I just got to get the ball out of my hands quick, avoid turnovers and put the ball in the (hands of) guys who can make plays for us. Really, that's the biggest thing a young guy's got to do.''

You are right about one thing, Zack Mettenberger. You are not Tom Brady. Nor are you Peyton Manning. You'll make a great scout someday.

Prediction: Texans 24, Titans 13

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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