The Titans will play the most important game of the season on Sunday against the Houston Texans. The Titans are down to the final 3 games of the season, Texans, Saints, and @ Texans. The Titans currently have a 57% chance to make the playoffs according to New York Times’ statistics:
Bye Week: 1%
Host wild card: 38%
Wild card: 18%
No playoffs: 43%
If the Titans were to lose to the Texans in Week 15, their chance of making the playoffs would drop to 31% but winning the following two games would bump it back up to 80%. With two losses, Week 15 against the Texans and Week 16 against the Saints, the Titans would still have a 55% chance of making the playoffs.
The bottom line is that the Titans will have to beat the Texans at least once if they want a shot at the playoffs. Currently, it looks much more likely that the Titans would get into the playoffs as a result of winning the division rather than through getting a wildcard spot.
Here are the other Week 15 games: (all games in CT)
Bears vs Packers SUN 12:00pm
Patriots vs Bengals SUN 12:00pm
Seahawks vs Panthers SUN 12:00pm
Titans vs Texans SUN 12:00pm
Dolphins vs Giants SUN 12:00pm
Eagles vs Redskins SUN 12:00pm
Broncos vs Chiefs SUN 12:00pm
Buccaneers vs Lions SUN 12:00pm
Browns vs Cardinals SUN 3:05pm
Jaguars vs Raiders SUN 3:05pm
Vikings vs Chargers SUN 3:05pm
Rams vs Cowboys SUN 3:25pm
Bills vs Steelers SUN 7:20pm
Colts vs Saints MON 7:15pm
The games that stand out the most are Rams vs Cowboys, Bills vs Steelers, and of course, Titans vs Texans. I'm interested to see if the Cowboys can play up to expectations against the Rams. Bills vs Steelers will have significance to the Titans because of the tight AFC Wild Card race.
As of Saturday night, the following players are listed as OUT for the Titans:
LB/ST: Daren Bates (Shoulder) *missed last week
WR: Adam Humphries (Ankle) *missed last week
CB: Adoree’ Jackson (Foot) *missed last week
RB: Derrick Henry (hamstring), although Henry said he would play during the week
S: Kenny Vaccaro (Concussion), left game early last week and was a full participant in Friday’s practice
LB Jayon Brown was a limited participant in practice and he is currently not listed
DE Jurrell Casey (knee), C Ben Jones (Thumb), and CB LeShaun Sims (Ankle) were all full participants on Friday but are not currently listed.
For the Texans, nobody is listed as OUT but WR Will Fuller V, RB Taiwan Jones, and LB Brennan Scarlett are all listed as questionable.
Like the Titans, the Texans sit at 8-5. The Texans are currently atop the AFC South and they have wins over the Chiefs and the Patriots. I do not think the Texans are as good as last year but this game will be difficult nonetheless. My keys to a Titans win:
1. Run the Ball
Right now, Derrick Henry is the best running back in the NFL and he has been unstoppable. Henry has 100+ yards in the last 4 games and has 2 touchdowns in three of those games. It is clear that Henry is the key to the Titans offense and his play can often determine how the team does as a whole. Hopefully, Henry’s hamstring will be close to 100% although he will likely be playing through some pain. In the 3rd quarter of last weeks game, Henry clearly began to slow down and did not seem as explosive as normal. If Henry can have another 100 yard performance, I think the Titans will win this game. If the run is established early I think the Titans will have another big offensive performance.
2. Make plays on Special Teams
The Titans have made some huge plays on Special teams such as both of the blocked field goals. The return game has not been too strong but now would be a great time to get it going. Big plays on special teams can change the momentum of a game. Last season, the Titans ran a fake punt against the Texans and it was executed perfectly. Making plays is important but even more important is making field goals. The Titans worked out K Brett Maher but elected not to sign him despite the kicking problems. Ryan Succop has missed 80% of his field goals this season and it is needless to say but I hope the game does not come down to a field goal. I truly wish the Titans signed Maher or signed Cody Parkey back but Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have shown that they trust Succop. Kicking has lost the Titans two games this season and I hope it does not get any worse.
3. Avoid big defensive mistakes
This seems obvious but big defensive mistakes have hurt the Titans in past games. Last week, the Raiders were only in the game at halftime due to a blown coverage. If the Titans blow coverage or make other big mistakes like that, this could be a long game because of the Texans strong receivers.
This game is even more important than last years Week 17 matchup against the Colts because this Titans team is special. This offense is unlike any in recent history and they have multiple all-pro players. I fully expect the Titans to win this game and it is impossible to pick against this Titans team with how well they are playing. I am predicting a 32-17 Titans win and I think Corey Davis will have a solid game because he has been pretty quiet for most of the season.
This game carries a lot of importance and it may prove to be the difference between playoffs and not playoffs.
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