Last updated: December 27th at 9:45am ET
Team Totals: Titans 24.5, Texans 21
Fans of playoff optimization should root for the Titans to clinch the AFC’s final Wild Card berth over the quarterback-deficient Steelers and fraudulent Raiders. In terms of weighted DVOA – adjusted for strength of schedule and stretch-run performance – Tennessee is a top-ten team, Pittsburgh 20th, and Oakland 25th. A simple straight-up win at Houston’s NRG Stadium would do the trick. And sportsbooks apparently aren’t buying Bill O’Brien’s early-week pledge to play the Texans’ starters for all of Sunday’s game, installing the Titans as 3.0-3.5-point road favorites. Against a Houston defense that has struggled mightily to stop the run and pass since losing J.J. Watt (pec), won’t have him until the postseason at soonest, and may rest several defensive starters regardless on Sunday, all of the usual Titans fantasy suspects – Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and A.J. Brown, in particular – are in play for Week 17 DFS.
There is a scenario where the Texans would have to run all of their starters; it’s just not likely. At very least, they need the full-motivation Chiefs to lose to the Chargers at Arrowhead, where K.C. is favored by 8.5 points. That would bring Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins back into fantasy play, although Will Fuller (groin) isn’t due back for at least two more games, and Watson could use the rest battling back and ankle injuries. Watson himself admitted Thursday he has “no idea” whether he’ll play against the Titans. If sportsbook lines are any indication, we’ll probably see an extended dose of A.J. McCarron throwing to Keke Coutee and Jordan Thomas with Buddy Howell and Taiwan Jones in the Texans’ backfield. Barring a Chiefs home loss and a Patriots loss in Foxboro to the Dolphins, Houston is all but locked into the AFC’s No. 4 seed and should already be game planning to face the Bills next week.
Score Prediction: Titans 27, Texans 17