Titans Face Win and In Scenario for 4th Straight Season
Coming of a dreadful loss on Sunday night football against the Packers, the Titans face a win and in scenario for the 4th straight season. A win over the Texans on Sunday would clinch the AFC South title and a playoff spot in this year's playoffs while a loss could result in missing the playoffs. There are many unique scenarios which depend on many different teams but if the Titans win, they are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and the AFC South title.
Another simple scenario would be an Indianapolis loss against Jacksonville. This would result in the Titans being AFC South Champions and the Colts most likely missing the playoffs. Even with a loss, the Titans would still clinch a playoff berth with a Miami loss at Buffalo or a Baltimore loss at Cincinnati.
Last Week against Green Bay, the Titans struggled in every aspect of the game. The offense produced just 14 points behind Ryan Tannehill's 2 interceptions. Derrick Henry averaged a decent 4.3 yards per carry but ended with 98 yards, a below average game for Henry. Tannehill struggled in the snow but scored a 45 yard rushing touchdown, which was the highlight of the night. Corey Davis was shut out and recorded 0 catches on 2 targets.
The defense struggled greatly all night. Aaron Rodgers had all day in the pocket and was sacked just one time on an unimportant play. At times, he had nearly 6 seconds in the pocket which is far too much and puts immense pressure on the secondary. The pass rush was practically non-existent as it has been many times this season. Giving Aaron Rodgers time in the pocket is a recipe for disaster.
Davante Adams totaled 142 yards and 3 touchdowns on 11 receptions and was the biggest problem for the Titans all night. Adoree Jackson was often covering him and struggled to contain him. Adams is clearly one of the best receivers in the league and Jackson was coming off a lingering injury, making for a bad situation. I would have preferred to see Malcom Butler on Adams, especially because he can play physically and historically does pretty well against top receivers.
The lone bright spot of the Titans defense was LB David Long Jr. Long with his team high 8 solo tackles and also had 1 tackle for loss. Long was drafted in the 6th round of the 2019 draft and was important in last year's playoff run. After battling injury this season, he is beginning to play very well and was good in both pass and run defense on last week.
Over the past 4 seasons, the Titans have faced the Jaguars, Colts, and Texans in win and in games in Week 17. Last year's game against the Texans saw Derrick Henry winning the rushing title after a 211 yard performance. The Texans started AJ McCarron at Quarterback and played few starters as they had already clinched a playoff spot. This season, they have nothing to lose which is a bit concerning.
Derrick Henry is on track to become the NFL rushing leader for the 2nd season in a row, making him the first player to win the award back to back since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 and 2007. This year, he leads the league in rushing by 220 yards and the next closes player, Dalvin Cook, will not be playing in Week 17.
Texans' Defensive End J.J. Watt gave an enthralling response to a question in a post-game interview after their Week 16 loss. He called out the players which could result in an energized Texans team in Week 17. This combined with the chance to knock out a division rival and possibly prevent them from making the playoffs concerns me. Also, with the way the Titans defense has been playing recently, the Titans could lose any week, even against the 4-11 Texans.
On Monday, Deshaun Watson said that he will play in the game against the Titans. The Texans are coming off a 37-31 loss against the Bengals, and have lost their last 4 games. After Romeo Crennell took over as interim coach in the middle of the season, the team began playing better but since then, they have worsened and their defense has struggled. Deshaun Watson is having a career year, totaling 4.458 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Even without DeAndre Hopkins, Watson has been great, targeting Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller V (recently suspended) a lot. Watson can change a game by himself, making this Week 17 matchup a potentially tight game.
Favorably for the Titans, Ryan Tannehill has had a lot of success against the Texans dating all the way back to his days in Miami. In 2015, he had a game with 4 passing touchdowns and was 18-19 in the passing game. Most recently, he threw for 4 touchdowns in the Titans overtime win in week 6.
In order to win this game, the Titans must stick to what has worked during the season...run the ball. Derrick Henry is the best running back in the NFL and has proven that time and again. With 211 and 212 rushing yards in his last two games against the Texans, Henry could be in for another massive game. I think the Titans have the edge in this matchup and they will come ready to play. The defense has struggled, but there is are still good players with potential. In order for the Titans to beat the Texans and make a possible playoff run, the defense must step up and the offense must continue rolling.