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VOL. 43 | NO. 50 | Friday, December 13, 2019

More Tannehill, more Henry, maximum pressure on Watson

By Terry McCormick

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The Tennessee Titans (8-5) have played themselves into a big game this Sunday against the Houston Texans, who also are 8-5. A win would place the Titans in first place in the AFC South with two games remaining and give them a chance to win the division for the first time since 2008.

Those two remaining games would be difficult wins – the 10-3 Saints at home and the Texans for a second time on the road – but it has been a long time since the Titans could say they control their own fate regarding a division championship.

Here are the keys to victory for the Titans in this all-important game:

First down

Keep on with Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has proven to be a revelation at quarterback for the Titans, coming off his best game yet for the club, a 391-yard, three-touchdown effort on the road against the Raiders. The Texans’ pass rush is not what it used to be with J.J. Watt injured and Jadeveon Clowney in Seattle. The Titans need to let Tannehill keep lighting it up as long as he can.

Second down

Make sure Henry is healthy. Derrick Henry has four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, and now has 1,243 yards rushing with three games left. A 1,500-yard season is not out of the question for Henry, if his balky hamstring holds up. Plenty of rest and treatment during the week will be key to a healthy Henry.

Third down

Pressure Deshaun Watson. The Texans have had about as many sack issues this season as the Titans, and Tennessee defensive coordinator Dean Pees needs to be able to pressure the Texans star quarterback enough to keep him from getting into a rhythm with receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Fourth down

Keep getting big plays. The Titans’ defense hasn’t been great of late, but it has turned in some big plays when sorely needed. They have also been getting big plays on special teams.

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