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VOL. 45 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 1, 2021

Surely Titans can clinch AFC South vs. lowly Texans, right?

By Terry McCormick

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For all the talk about locking up a playoff berth early and not having to fight and scramble just to get to the postseason, here are the Tennessee Titans once again having to win in Week 17 to nail down a playoff berth.

The Titans can clinch their first division title in 12 years with a win in Houston. However, a loss could leave them without a spot in the postseason. Here is a look at what they must do to win and reach the postseason.

First down

Get after the quarterback. There is talk that Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson might not play with nothing to gain for a team that has been out of the playoffs for several weeks. That could mean a big advantage for a Titans defense that can use any edge it can get. Certainly, A.J. McCarron or Josh McCown offers far less of a threat than Watson would.

Second down

Get up early. The Titans work best when they can get an early lead. The results can be ugly when they don’t. Examples: Green Bay and Cleveland. Getting Derrick Henry going early and using play-action to get the ball to Corey Davis and A.J. Brown might make the Texans yearn for coming tee times rather than wanting to tackle a big load like Henry on the season’s final day.

Third down

No dumb penalties. The Titans hurt themselves with two penalties that nullified big plays in the first half against Green Bay. One by Rashaan Evans’ voided a third-down stop and led to a Green Bay touchdown. Then Josh Kalu was called for being offsides (a call questioned even by the TV announcers) that cost the Titans a blocked field goal. As Mike Vrabel is fond of saying “Don’t do dumb things that hurt the team.”

Fourth down

Claim the prize. The Titans have everything to play for. The Texans have nothing to play for except to possibly ruin the Titans season and send the Colts to the division title. The Titans have to be focused and take care of business against the team that is just playing out the string.

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