NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With 31 players on Injured Reserve the Titans (7-7) may need a Christmas miracle to beat the Texans (1-12-1) Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

The loss of players on IR does not include quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but he has already been ruled out because of ankle injuries and rookie Malik Willis will make his third start.

Willis is 1-1 as the Titans starter after a pair of starts that saw him really struggle to throw the football.

Malik Willis Starts

  • (W) at Houston 17-10 – (6-10) 55 yards, 1 INT, 5 rushes, 12 yards
  • (L) at Kansas City 20-17 OT- (5-16) 80 yards, 8 rushes, 40 yards

Head coach Mike Vrabel said Willis looked more comfortable in his one drive in Los Angeles last week and had a good week of practice, “ Good. The leadership, his grasp of what we’re doing and the game plan has been good,” said Vrabel, “Now we have to go out and be ready to play and execute. That is the most important thing, that we try to focus each and every week to prepare as a starter. I think he is excited for the opportunity.”

Complicating things even more in Willis’ second start against the Texans, is an injury depleted offensive line that will be down to two opening day starters.  The line is expected to be a combination of Dennis Daley, Aaron Brewer, Corey Levin, Jordan Roos and Nicholas Petit-Frere. 

The Titans are expected to get back receiver Treylon Burks, but their best bet may be trying to pound away at one of the worst run defenses in the NFL with Derrick Henry who has rushed for over 200 yards in four straight games against the Texans.

Henry vs Texans

  • 32 carries, 219 yards, 2 TD’s
  • 34 carries, 250 yards 2 TD’s
  • 22 carries, 212 yards, 2 TD’s
  • 32 carries, 211 yards 3 TD’s

The Texans are dead last in the league giving up 167 yards per game on the ground, the only question is if the Titans have the horses up front to give Henry enough room up front to take advantage of it.

The Texans have only one win this season but have played some of their best football the last two weeks taking the Cowboys to the wire and the Chiefs to overcome in a pair of heartbreaking losses.

“We just have to play on Saturday,” said Vrabel “then focus where we go from there and not worry about what happens after that. We have to do that. Again, there have been signs of it. It just hasn’t been consistently here where we have needed it lately.”

The x-factor in the game is the weather.  It could be well be the coldest game ever played at Nissan Stadium with temperatures expected to be around 20 degrees.  

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On Saturday, Mayor John Cooper asked the Titans to postpone the game as frigid temperatures continue to strain power generation facilities.

The previous coldest game was 23 degrees in a Titans win over Jacksonville December 31st, 2017 that sent them to the playoffs.