Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel doesn’t care much for your fantasy team this late in the season. He cares about making the playoffs.
Star running back Derrick Henry has been downgraded to doubtful for Thursday night’s matchup between the Titans and Dallas Cowboys.
This news comes after Vrabel ruled eight players out for the game, including defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been dealing with an ankle injury.
Tannehill is trying his best to be ready by Week 18 to face the Jacksonville Jaguars for what will determine the winner of the AFC South.
That Week 18 battle is why Vrabel is being extra cautious with his players this week. The Week 17 game against the Cowboys is meaningless for the Titans.
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Their playoff fate will be decided in their final regular season game, but the Jaguars are thinking the same thing.
With Henry on the injury report with a hip injury, Vrabel and the Titans aren’t going to test anything when the game doesn’t have playoff implications.
After losing to the Houston Texans last week — their fifth straight loss — and Jacksonville defeating the New York Jets on the road, both teams are deadlocked at 7-8 on the season.
Even if the Titans lose and the Jaguars win this week, winning in Week 18 would send the Titans to the playoffs.
The Jaguars defeated the Titans in Week 14, so the head-to-head tiebreaker wouldn’t matter. The next tiebreaker is division record. And if Jacksonville beats Houston this week, both teams will head into their Week 18 matchup with a 3-2 division record.
The Titans seemed to have the division locked up until their losing streak began. It didn’t help that the Jaguars won three straight, including an overtime thriller against the Cowboys at home.
Now both teams will be making sure their key guys — quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. among those for Jacksonville — will be ready to play next week.
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As the reigning No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Titans would love to rectify their recent losing by beating the Jags and giving themselves a shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But with rookie Malik Willis struggling to lead the Titans’ offense, Vrabel is hoping veteran starter Tannehill will be healthy enough to play.
Lawrence has been one of the best quarterbacks in football of late, showcasing a solid performance against the Jets that resulted in a 19-3 win. In just his second year, Lawrence is hoping to qualify for playoff football for the first time.
This Week 18 matchup is win or go home, so the playoff atmosphere will be potent in Jacksonville.
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