Week 18 is here. As the playoff bracket begins to take shape, quite a few teams can move around. One of them is the Tennessee Titans, who hold the top seed in the AFC entering the final weekend of the NFL regular season.
If things go right for them this weekend, the Titans can lock up the top overall seed and give Derrick Henry some more recovery time.
The Titans can lock up the top seed in the AFC simply by beating the Texans
A lot of good things are happening in Tennessee. But, most importantly, the Titans already have a playoff spot and the AFC South locked up.
Now, can they remain the top seed in the AFC?
The path is simple: defeat the Houston Texans.
The Texans have a 4-12 record and lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17, 23-7. Houston has no business winning this game, but it did just defeat the Los Angeles Chargers a couple of weeks ago in a confusing outcome.
The Titans locking up the top seed would be huge. Home-field advantage is always a big thing come playoff time, and with the addition of a seventh playoff team, only the first overall seed gets a bye.
Things look good for the Titans to secure the top seed, and they look even better for their playoff run with superstar Derrick Henry nearing his return.
Derrick Henry activated from Injured Reserve just in time for the Titans playoff run
Halloween was a bittersweet day for the Titans. Sure, they defeated the Indianapolis Colts, but that was also the last time Henry suited up for this season.
The talented running back — and likely NFL MVP finalist if he had remained healthy — sustained a foot injury, causing him to have surgery and knocking him out for the rest of the regular season.
But head coach Mike Vrabel gave the team good news when Henry’s practice window opened, and he looked to be moving around pretty well.
While there is technically a shot Henry suits up, the Titans need him ready to roll for the playoff stretch and can use another week or two of rest and recovery as he knocks off the rust.
Bad news: The Texans defeated the Titans in their first meeting this season
In Week 11, the Texans stunned the world and defeated the Titans, 22-13, with Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback.
Titans safety Kevin Byard remembers that well, as if the Titans needed more motivation to clinch the top seed in the AFC.
In that loss, Ryan Tannehill threw four interceptions (yes, really), and both touchdowns came in the second half in a poor effort all around from Tennessee.
Simply put, the Titans need to beat the Texans. Getting Henry an extra week of work is enormous, and securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs would give them a massive upper hand on the rest of the competition.
Get ready. The NFL playoffs are just about here.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference