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Audibles: AFC South Week 8 preview

Discussion in 'Tennessee Titans and NFL Talk' started by NewsGrabber, Oct 25, 2008.

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    Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

    <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=cin" shape="rect" target="_new" />Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) at <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=hou" shape="rect" target="_new" />Houston Texans (2-4), 4:05 p.m. ET


    [IMG][IMG] The Texans have been moving the ball and scoring points, with totals of 27, 27, 28 and 28 points in the last month. That lines up well with Cincinnati, as the hapless, winless Bengals have surrendered an average of 26 points a game.

    Houston is looking for the first three-game winning streak in team history and it would get them to 3-4 after a miserable start against high-quality teams. The hope is they can play well from start to finish instead of putting things in jeopardy late like they did last week in a win over Detroit.

    Cincinnati's got the league's worst-ranked offense. The Texans can't afford to allow the Bengals to find the sort of big play they've been lacking that could ignite any sort of new confidence. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played against Houston once as a Ram, and lit the Texans up for 310 passing yards, three touchdowns and a 117.4 passer rating.

    <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=cle" shape="rect" target="_new" />Cleveland Browns (2-4) at <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=jac" shape="rect" target="_new" />Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3), 4:05 p.m. ET


    [IMG][IMG] Jacksonville should have a revamped interior offensive line with Brad Meester back in place at center and Chris Naeole at right guard. Safety Reggie Nelson, possibly the team's best defensive player, will also return.

    One Cleveland strength has been interceptions -- six different players have combined for nine picks. But David Garrard has settled down after four in his first three games and looks like he did last year with no picks in the Jaguars last three games.

    Cleveland's rush defense yields an average of 146.3 yards a game and 4.8 yards a carry, which suggests Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew could have productive afternoons.

    The last four games between these teams have featured wins by the road team, but Cleveland hasn't visited North Florida since 2002.

    Indianapolis Colts (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (6-0), 8:30 p.m. ET Monday

    [IMG][IMG] Indianapolis has won five consecutive AFC South titles and during those five seasons the Colts had been all but invincible in September and October. They've also won eight consecutive games on Monday night.

    Now they are in the unfamiliar position of chasing someone else.

    The Titans make just two appearances on national television this year, this game and a Thanksgiving game in Detroit. They know there are some who consider the lone undefeated team in the league to be a fluke, and they know they can answer those critics with a solid showing. They've not had a nationally televised home game since December 2004.

    The Colts are a completely different team when forced to play from behind, and so the first quarter is crucial here. If Kerry Collins can engineer an early drive or two and put up points, Tennessee should be able to determine the shape of the game.

    Look for cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan, Nick Harper and Vincent Fuller to be very physical with Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez off the line, trying to throw things off rhythm right from the snap as the Packers did last week. If the defensive backs can do that with the wideouts and Dallas Clark while Albert Haynesworth wreaks havoc in the interior, it could be difficult for the Colts to get comfortable. Teams have played keep-away with success against the Colts for long stretches this season, and no one likes that game within the game more than Jeff Fisher.

    While early points would be great, the Titans have no trouble being patient on offense. Even if they fall behind by a couple of scores, they are going to run it and look to wear the Colts down. They've found the right combination of carries for speedster Chris Johnson and pounder LenDale White. Last week in Kansas City they helped set a new franchise rushing record (332 yards). Ideally they'd get some big runs from Johnson early and be able to run White more late.

    The Colts will look for a boost on run defense from linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, who's expected to get some work at weakside linebacker in his second game back from a chest injury.



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