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Derrick Henry sitting makes sense in Titans playoff situation

Titans running back Derrick Henry is expected to sit out the team’s Week 16 contest against the Saints. We break down what it means and why the Titans can afford to do this.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill hands the football off to running back Derrick Henry during the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are expected to sit running back Derrick Henry in Week 16, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The news comes after the team downgraded him to questionable on Saturday and then watched the Houston Texans clinch the AFC South division with their win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Titans currently sit in seventh place in the AFC, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the final wild card spot, but behind them in the tiebreaker. The Titans need wins to get into the playoffs, but it turns out beating the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 won’t really make much of a difference in the playoff picture.

The Athletic’s John Glennon noted earlier this week how the playoff picture shakes out for Tennessee these final two weeks:

The first thing to keep in mind regarding the Titans and the wild card: No matter what else happens, the Steelers — tied with the Titans at 8-6 — must lose at least one of their two remaining games, either at the Jets or at the Ravens. If Pittsburgh wins out and finishes 10-6, the Titans are out of luck.

But if the Steelers lose one of their final two games — and open the wild-card door for the Titans — the Titans could earn a playoff berth by beating the Texans and finishing 9-7. What about the Titans finishing 9-7 with a win over the Saints and a loss to the Texans? That wouldn’t cut it if the Steelers also finished 9-7, because it would leave Pittsburgh with a better record against AFC opponents than the Titans.

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport put together a basic list of scenarios:

Steelers win next 2 games: Steelers get wild card
Steelers win 1 of 2, TEN beats NO & loses to HOU: Steelers get wild card
Steelers win 1 of 2, TEN beats HOU: Titans get wild card
Steelers lose next 2 games: Titans get wild card

Sorry to fantasy football players. It makes sense for the Titans to rest Derrick Henry for what could prove to be a must-win game in Week 17 against the Texans.