NASHVILLE - The Titans are in a win-and-in playoff scenario this week.
Beat the Houston Texans, and the Titans advance to the playoffs as the No.6 seed.
The Texans are already in. Houston punched its ticket into the postseason with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the weekend. The Texans are the 2019 AFC champs, and it's certain they'll play in the first-round of the playoffs on either January 4 or 5.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien, speaking on a conference call with reporters in Nashville on Monday, made something else sound like a certainty. He doesn't plan to hold anything back on Sunday vs. the Titans.
"Every game we go into we play to win," O'Brien said. "So, we're playing to win."
The Texans (10-5) are currently scheduled to be the No.4 seed in the playoffs. They potentially could move up to the No.3 spot with a win over the Titans and a Kansas City (11-4) loss to the Chargers. If the Chiefs beat the Chargers at noon on Sunday, however, the Texans' playoff seeding can't be affected by the outcome the 3:25 p.m. game vs. the Titans.
There's even one scenario where the Texans and Titans could meet in the first-round of the playoffs.
Asked if he might hold anything back and protect players with the possibility that they play the Titans in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, O'Brien gave a one-word answer: "No."
Speaking with reporters in Houston, O'Brien added more insight into his thought process.
"Look, I think that any time we take the field, based on what we're all about, our program and what we're trying to do here and what we've tried to build here for six years is we're about trying to win," O'Brien said. "It's all about the game, trying to win games. We realize all those things that you just said are very important factors to take into relative to where we're at, but we need to play to win the game."
The Texans beat the Titans 24-21 in Nashville on December 15.
"Obviously, playing them twice in the last three weeks – you're talking about two physical football teams that are, I think, very resilient, very tough football teams," O'Brien said of the upcoming Titans-Texans matchup. "I think it's just going to be a very, tough physical game."