NFL picks and predictions, Texans vs. Titans 2014: Experts have little faith in Zach Mettenberger

A rookie quarterback + the league’s top turnover machine = panelists picking the Texans.

The Houston Texans may be on the slide, but they’re still playing a rookie quarterback this Sunday. Despite a three-game losing skid, the Texans are heavy favorites among league experts to knock off the Tennessee Titans, who have been forced to turn to Zach Mettenberger under center.

With Jake Locker hurt and Charlie Whitehurst ineffective, Mettenberger will make the first start of his career (it will be his second time seeing action — he threw five passes late in a blowout to the Indianapolis Colts). He could have picked an easier opponent to do so against. While the Texans rank 26th in the league in passing yards allowed, they rank first in forcing turnovers. J.J. Watt is arguably the league’s best defender and he could potentially be joined Sunday by No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, who has said he’s ready to return from a knee injury.

Even if it was Locker suiting up for the Titans, though, the experts would probably be leaning away from the 2-5 Titans.

It’s a clean sweep at Fox, where all eight panelists are going with Houston. Keyshawn Johnson and Pete Prisco are the only ones keeping it from being unanimous at ESPN and CBS Sports, respectively. Prisco is predicting a surprise 21-13 Titans upset, though that pick was made under the assumption that Tennessee could have Locker back (he’s been listed as Mettenberger’s backup at least).

A pair of experts at SB Nation are going with the upset: David Fucillo and PFT Commenter. Ryan Van Bibber, Stephen White, Danny Kelly, Matt Ufford and Joel Thorman are all picking the Texans.

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