HOUSTON — The Tennessee Titans will secure their first division title since 2008 with a victory Sunday afternoon against the struggling Houston Texans in an AFC South matchup to close the regular season.
The Titans will also capture the division if the Indianapolis Colts lose, and Tennessee can lock up a spot in the NFL playoffs for the second straight season with losses by the Baltimore Ravens or Miami Dolphins or three other scenarios involving ties or losses.
But the Titans (10-5) aren't interested in relying on anyone else to get into the expanded postseason, with their focus on taking care of business against the Texans (4-11).
"It doesn't get any more clear than it is for us right now. We win this game, find a way to win, win the division," Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "That's one of the things we set out to do this year. It's pretty clear what we need to do. We just have to go out and make it happen."
A key to doing that will be the performance of running back Derrick Henry.
"It's whatever it takes to win and keeps us an opportunity to get in the playoffs," Henry said. "Even though their record is not good ... they've been playing good football. Every game they've been in, they've been pretty close."
He can step on the field at NRG Stadium with his second straight NFL rushing title locked up, making him the first to do that in consecutive seasons since LaDainian Tomlinson completed the feat in 2007 with the San Diego Chargers.
Henry, who turns 27 on Monday, has a career-high 1,777 rushing yards on 344 carries and a 220-yard lead over the closest running back, and Dalvin Cook won't be playing for the Minnesota Vikings due to his father's death. Jacksonville Jaguars rookie James Robinson is third on the list with 1,070 yards on 240 carries.
Henry — he has had 23 or more carries eight times this season, with his low 15 after the Titans fell into an early hole against the Cleveland Browns — is 223 yards from becoming the eighth player in NFL history to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season and the first since Adrian Peterson had 2,097 for the Vikings in 2012.
Henry has run for 200-plus yards in his past two meetings with Houston. On Oct. 18, he totaled 212 yards on the ground, and his 5-yard touchdown in overtime lifted the Titans to a 42-36 win in Nashville. In the 2019 regular-season finale against Houston, he had 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel hopes his team can keep the 6-foot-3, 247-pounder with a rare combination of power between the tackles and breakaway speed from reaching the 2,000-yard mark.
"That would be great if we could do that," Crennel said. "I know that he's probably planning on it. But what we have to do is we have to keep him from getting to the second level, because once he gets to the second level, he becomes a different animal then."
Long out of playoff contention, the Texans are desperate for a win to snap a four-game skid and end this dismal season on a positive note. To have any chance for that to happen, they'll need another big game from Deshaun Watson, who ranks second in the NFL with 4,458 passing yards.
Watson, the No. 12 overall draft pick from 2017, is putting up the best statistics of his NFL career after signing a four-year contract extension at the start of this season. He needs 313 more yards through the air to pass Matt Schaub (4,770) for the most in a single season in franchise history.
Watson has thrown just one interception in his past 10 games and has thrown for more than 300 yards in five of his past six. His 4,458 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes are both career highs, and he has nine 300-yard games this year.
"He's fantastic," Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said. "There's a calmness. I don't think there ever looks like there's any panic when things break down sometimes in the pocket. He's got amazing play strength, quick release, can throw from different platforms with guys hanging all over him. It's a huge challenge."