NASHVILLE -- With a playoff berth on the line, the Tennessee Titans (8-7) conclude their regular season schedule this week with a trip to play the AFC South champion Houston Texans (10-5). Kickoff at NRG Stadium (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. CST on Sunday, Dec. 29.
The Titans are still alive in the AFC playoff chase with a chance to capture the second wild card, the final spot in the conference's six-team postseason field. With a Titans win at Houston, the Titans would secure the sixth-overall seed.
This will be the second meeting between the Titans and Texans in a three-week span. They played two weeks ago at Nissan Stadium, with the Texans escaping with a 24-21 win. The Titans erased a 14-0 deficit in the second half before the Texans reclaimed the lead and ultimately won with 10 points in the fourth quarter.
This week's game will be regionally televised on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. The broadcast team includes play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, analyst Tony Romo and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.
Within the two teams' local television markets, fans can livestream the game on their mobile devices from the Titans app (iOS devices) and the Yahoo! Sports app (iOS and Android devices). Restrictions apply. For more information visit TitansOnline.com.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, analyst Dave McGinnis, sideline reporter Amie Wellsand gameday hosts Rhett Bryan and Jonathan Hutton.
ESPN Radio will broadcast the game to a national audience. Play-by-play announcer Adam Amin, analyst Dusty Dvoracek and sideline reporter Dianna Russini have the call.
*WIN AND IN *
The simplest avenue for the Titans to make the postseason is to defeat the Texans, which would guarantee their second playoff appearance in three seasons and their first playoff berth under second-year head coach Mike Vrabel.
The Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) and Oakland Raiders (7-8) are the three teams still vying for the AFC's final playoff spot. Even if the Steelers and Titans both win to finish 9-7, the Titans would hold the strength-of-victory tiebreaker.
The Titans also would win a three-team tiebreaker with the Steelers and Raiders at 8-8. However, they will be eliminated at 8-8 if the Indianapolis Colts likewise finish with eight wins and knock the Titans out of the equation. Although the Colts still would not advance, their superior division record would make the Titans the first team out under that scenario.
The three combinations for the Titans to gain entry to the playoffs are as follows:
- Tennessee win (at Houston) OR
- Tennessee tie (at Houston) + Pittsburgh loss or tie (at Baltimore) OR
- Tennessee loss (at Houston) + Pittsburgh loss (at Baltimore) + Indianapolis loss or tie (at Jacksonville)
This is the third consecutive season the Titans enter Week 17 with a win-and-in playoff scenario. In 2017, they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars to advance, but a year later, they were eliminated when they dropped the finale to the Indianapolis Colts.
*THE TEXANS *
With a 23-20 road win last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Texans won their fourth division crown in six seasons under head coach Bill O'Brien. They will enter the playoffs as either the AFC's third or fourth seed.
In his third NFL season, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has passed for 3,852 yards and 26 touchdowns with 12 interceptions (98.0 passer rating). His primary target is wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is third in the NFL in receptions (104) and sixth in receiving yards (1,165).
When O'Brien was appointed to his post in 2014, he hired Vrabel from Ohio State to coach the club's linebackers. Vrabel held the job until O'Brien promoted him to defensive coordinator in 2017, and the following year, Vrabel was hired as head coach of the Titans.