The Titans fell to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in a game that ultimately ends up being meaningless if the Titans can find a win against the Texans. Even with a loss in the season finale, there is a scenario the Titans still make the playoffs.
The Titans and Steelers both lost last Sunday which puts the Titans in if the season were to end today. Unfortunately it doesn’t so there will be one more stress filled Sunday afternoon for Titans fans.
The easiest path to the playoffs of course is for the Titans to just win against the Texans. With the win the Titans eliminate all other teams barely clinging to life to get in on the Wild Card. Should the Titans lose their third in a row, they still have a small window to squeeze in to the playoffs.
In the event of a loss the Titans will need several things to happen. First and most important is for the Steelers to also lose at the Ravens. There’s a slim chance of this as the Ravens will be resting their starters. Second, they’ll also need the Colts to lose. With a Colts win the Steeler’s will make the playoffs over the Titans unless the Raiders also win in which case they would jump both teams.
Must Win vs Texans
As stated before, the simplest path to the playoffs with the least amount of headaches is to just win against the Texans Sunday. The last thing the Texans are playing for is to improve their seed over the Chiefs. With a Chargers win over the Chiefs at noon, there’s a good chance the Texans rest all of their starters. As it stands, the Titans can expect to see the Texans starters fighting for a win like any other week.
#Titans should expect/prepare to face #Texans starters despite Houston likely ending up with the 4th seed regardless of a win or loss. Bill O'Brien says 'every game they go into they play to win.' Still a chance starters other than Will Fuller don't play if KC beats the Chargers.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) December 23, 2019
Another factor working against the Titans is their inability to win inside NRG Stadium. The last win at that venue was 2012 in a memorable 23-22 game that ended with the Texans failed attempt at a two-point conversion to win the game. The Titans won but their playoff hopes would still end a few hours later.
By kickoff these teams will be just 14 days removed from seeing each other last. They know each other and what to expect. The bottom line for the Titans is to make sure Derrick Henry is healthy and ready to go. After resting him last week the hope is that he will be fresh and ready to go.
Henry will have to get going for the Titans to stand a chance. Tennessee has yet to lose a game in which Henry eclipses 100 yards. His presence wears down on a defense as the game progresses as well as opens up the play action pass for Tannehill.
Tajae Sharpe’s re-emergence last week as well as the two weeks prior opens up another much needed target for Tannehill. Rookie A.J. Brown can’t always be the main target and Sharpe has opened himself up the past few weeks. Against the Saints he set season highs in receptions (5), yards (69), and touchdowns (2).
It’s week 17 and the path to the playoffs is as clear as it ever has been. The Titans are in the driver’s seat and just need a win to secure their spot. With a loss, it’s almost charity work again to find a path into the playoff.
It will be important to come out firing like they did against the Saints. Another dud laid in the first half could prove deadly against the Texans. In the first matchup the game was dangerously close to becoming a blowout. Some timely defensive interceptions in the endzone saved that game and made it appear closer than the final score showed.
If the Titans can pound it out on the ground and stifle the Texans offense similar to how it did in week 15 they should stand a good chance. Tannehill leads the NFL in passer rating this season at 116.5. With the running game being a threat, he’ll be able to pick apart the Texan defense and lead the Titans to the playoffs.
“From Our Haus to Yours”