The playoff path for the Tennessee Titans is simple: Win over Jacksonville and reach the postseason for the first time since the 2008 season. Sure, the Titans can make the playoffs, even if they lose, should the Chargers and Bills falter. But the Titans need to simply take care of business and not concern themselves with needing help. They also can’t worry about whether or not the Jags, who are already locked into their playoff position, play all out or rest starters.
1. Trust Derrick Henry. With DeMarco Murray out of the lineup with a knee injury, Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, will have to be counted upon to carry the load. Despite more yards and a better yards per carry average this season than Murray, the Titans have been reluctant to rely on Henry as their feature back of late. That changes now because the Titans have no choice.
2.Win the turnover battle. The Titans know from past experience that they can rattle Blake Bortles into mistakes. However, on the other side of the ball Jacksonville’s starters in the secondary have 18 interceptions, and Titans QB Marcus Mariota has become prone to turnovers as well this season with 15 picks.
3. Stop the run. The Titans have done a good job of stopping the run for the most part, ranking third against it this season. Jacksonville’s rushing attack, led by Leonard Fournette, is first in the league and will present a big challenge.
4. Don’t let the moment be too big. Tennessee has no one on its roster who has ever made the postseason as a member of the Titans. All they have are players who have experienced the playoffs at previous stops and homegrown players who have suffered through the years of futility. With the playoffs there for the taking, the Titans have to block that out and just play football. This goes for the coaching staff too, as Mike Mularkey has been to the playoffs many times as an assistant coach, but is on the precipice of his first as a head coach.
5. Step up in the moment. Along the same lines of not letting the moment be too big, the Titans need someone on the roster to step up and make a big play at a pivotal time. Whether that is a pass, a run, a catch or defensive stop, someone on the Titans will have the chance to seize the day and put this team in the postseason.