The Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans meet for the second time in three weeks following a sandwich game last week. The Titans got out early to a 14-0 lead against the New Orleans Saints at Nissan Stadium last week, but that was short lived with the defense failing to hang in there versus Drew Brees. Ryan Tannehill kept firing away, though his defense let him down in what would have been a monumental win for the Titans.
Adoree Jackson would have been helpful in that spot, but was held out of action again last week. Jackson has not shown much progress this week, so it’s within reason that he sits out again. LeShaun Sims will be expected to fill in for Jackson. Brees took advantage of the hole and passed for 379 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a record-breaking strike to Michael Thomas late when it was a tight 31-28 score.
Houston have their spot solidified in the playoffs. They can move up from here, but it’s going to require a loss by the Chiefs at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. If the Chiefs beat the Chargers, then a win for the Texans today is meaningless. The Texans will be locked into the No. 4 slot with a win or loss if the Chiefs take care of business at Arrowhead. However, a loss opens up an opportunity for the Texans to win and move to No. 3. In other words, this isn’t the most important game for the Texans.
The most important thing for the Texans is to get out of this one injury free. Bill O’Brien has stated that his starters are going to get playing time in this one, but what he hasn’t indicated is for how long they’ll be playing. O’Brien has been mum on their overall plans heading into Week 17. Note that Deshaun Watson has been listed on the injury report with a sore back. That isn’t going to be enough to take the opening snaps, but what’s the point in giving him an extended load if the Chiefs are beating the Chargers comfortably. It’s not like the Texans get a bye week either way, though.
The Texans were winners in Nashville two weeks ago by a score of 24-21. We were on the right side with a winning pick on the Texans as a road dog in that one. The Texans will be home dogs again, but this time they’ll have home-field on their side. The edge in motivation for the Titans gives them the nod as the favorite in the eyes of oddsmakers, though. Ryan Tannehill is playing for a whole lot in this game. Not only for his team and the playoffs, but the Titans seem interested in extending his contract. A big performance in a must-win spot would put a stamp on a nice payday for Titans. Some help from the defense wouldn’t help his cause on Sunday. Head below for our free Titans vs. Texans pick in Week 17 of the NFL.
Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans Betting Odds:
Titans vs. Texans Prediction:
Ryan Tannehill has exceeded expectations for the Titans this season, as he provided the much needed spark that the offense needed this season. Waiting any longer than they did to bench Marcus Mariota and we might not be talking about a play-in game for the Titans right now. With Mariota as the starting quarterback, the Titans were relying exclusively on their defense. With defensive injuries hitting them since then, it’s been imperative that the offense generates drives with points.
Mariota wasn’t doing that, but Tannehill has been doing it like an All-Star. Despite a loss against the Saints last week, Tannehill was able to bypass Brees and is going into Week 17 with the best QBR in the league. Tannehill owns a flawless 116.5 QBR, while Brees is at 115.7 heading into the final week. A performance to clinch that top spot and a trip to the playoffs would conclude a special season for the former Miami Dolphin.
Tannehill is a guy who was largely forgotten about with the Dolphins. His career was already chalked up as a bust. However, going from a dysfunctional organization to a better structured team in Tennessee has provided him a new career in the NFL. Tannehill enters the most important start of his career having thrown 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 165 yards and 4 scores on the ground. The main thing for Tannehill has been how confident he’s been in the pocket. You don’t see any indecision from Tannheill like you’d see from him with the Dolphins. The ball is getting out quickly and accurately.
He has linked up with rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown often. Brown has looked like the best rookie wide receiver to me. Brown is going to be a load to handle for a long time in the NFL. He’s hauled in 48 receptions for 927 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for the ball on three occasions for 60 yards and a touchdown. The offense will get a big piece big this week in Houston. Derrick Henry was unable to go last week, but has received the green light for Week 17. Henry has opened everything up for Tannehill downfield. He’s rushed for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry.
The Titans still played well without Henry last week, but the offense opens up and provides more opportunities for Tannehill to complete deep plays with Henry in the fold. The Houston secondary cannot get on their heels too much, or Henry is going to be running downhill for chunk yardage. I do not want to be a motivated-less defense having to handle Henry with the ball in his hands.
The Titans’ defense can be beat, but how much is Bill O’Brien going to want to show here? Don’t expect them to get too exotic and keep their playbook for Sunday relatively simple. The Texans aren’t going to completely fall over and get KO’d here. However, there will likely be a visible difference between energy levels in the 4th quarter. I was on the Texans two weeks ago, though I’m looking at the Titans to return the favor in Houston in Week 17. Mike Vrabel likely gets his guys ready to perform in what should be a 27-20 or 26-17 win for the Titans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.