It looks like the Titans will be playing in January. Tennessee secured a No. 6 seed with a 35-14 win against the Texans in Week 17 and will now face the Patriots in the the AFC wild-card round. The last time it made the playoffs was in 2017, and it lost to the New England in the second round. But the Titans have made a major change at quarterback since then.
The Titans owe Ryan Tannehill for saving their season, as the 31-year-old has given the team consistent play under center since winning the starting job from Marcus Mariota. The seventh-year veteran notched his seventh consecutive multi-touchdown game against Houston’s poor secondary and has helped Tennessee raise its ceiling. His level of play paired with the return of running back Derrick Henry, who was held out in Week 16 with a hamstring injury, were a handful for the Texans.
Houston may have been at home, but it was at a major disadvantage without its star quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Watson was replaced by A.J. McCarron because of a back injury, and the drop in talent was obvious. To make matters worse, the Texans didn’t utilize their top receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who dealt with an illness leading up to the game and was expected to be limited regardless. Houston has already clinched the AFC South and appears to be prepping for its postseason run. Its caution gave it little chance to come out on top against a Tennessee team clawing tooth and nail for a spot in the postseason.
Tannehill went 13-of-20 passing for 198 yard and two scores while Henry ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns of his own, passing the Browns’ Nick Chubb to claim the 2019 rushing crown. A.J. Brown lead all receivers with four receptions for 124 yards and a score.
McCarron threw for 225 yards but couldn’t find the end zone with his arm. But he did cross the goal line with his legs on one of his three carries in the contest. His top target was DeAndre Carter, who hauled in six balls for 65 yards.
Both teams are headed to the postseason and could meet again before it’s all said and done. However, Tennessee’s road to the Super Bowl looks like it will be a little tougher.