The Tennessee Titans will be closing out the 2106 season Sunday in bittersweet fashion.
On the one hand, the Titans showed remarkable improvement, having a chance to better last year’s record by six games if they can defeat the Houston Texans.
On the other hand, however, the Titans will miss out on the postseason for the eight consecutive season, thanks to their poor 1-4 division record.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey, in his first full season as head coach, said this year’s edition of the Titans is special to him.
“A lot of good things to remember from this year. You know, this is my 31st or 32nd year in the league—can’t remember right now—but I’ve got about a half a dozen years that I can pull out. This is one of them,” Mularkey said.
For the Titans to close out the season the way they want to technically tie the Texans for the division title, here is what they need on Sunday:
First down: Stay the course – The Titans’ playoff balloon burst last week, but players still claim it is important to them to snap a five-game losing streak against the Texans and finish with their first winning season since 2011. That means a focused effort, free of costly turnovers and penalties on Sunday.
Second down: Protect the Cassel – Matt Cassel steps in for an injured Marcus Mariota on Sunday as the starting quarterback. Cassel is a savvy veteran, but the Titans need to protect him by running the football successfully with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and using the short to intermediate passing game to get Cassel into a good rhythm and not let the rust show.
Third down: Harass Savage – Tom Savage is highly inexperienced as the Texans starting quarterback. The Titans no doubt will send plenty of exotic looks and blitzes his way to see how he holds up to pressure and disguises.
Fourth down: Stop Hopkins – Jason McCourty drew DeAndre Hopkins for a good part of the game last time and held him to one catch. McCourty could miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury, leaving the Titans to use someone else in Sunday’s rematch.