There has been plenty of speculation about whether the Texans would or wouldn’t rest starters for Sunday’s matchup with the Titans, but now we have some actual news to relay. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Texans are planning to rest key starters for their game against the Titans.
One note for Sunday: The #Vikings are planning to rest their key starters and the #Texans won’t take any chances, either. Expect both to have several starters on the sidelines even if they aren’t inactive. Smart with little or nothing to play for.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 29, 2019
Rapoport doesn’t qualify that statement with an “if the Chiefs win” so I’d say that we are probably going to see A.J. McCarron and a bunch of the Houston backups when this game kicks off.
As we’ve covered all week, this game means everything to the Titans and very little to the Texans. Tennessee is in a win and in situation while Houston can only improve their playoff seeding from 4 to 3 if they were to win while the Chiefs also lost their Week 17 game against the Chargers.
At the end of the day, the value of getting a rested, healthy Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Laremy Tunsil, and Kenny Stills is probably greater than the value of moving up one seed.
This is obviously good news for the Titans playoff hopes and it makes the absences of Adoree’ Jackson, Adam Humphries, and Kalif Raymond a bit less painful. However, assuming that this is going to be a cakewalk would be a mistake. A.J. McCarron has been in the NFL for 6 years and has a 2-2 record as a starter, including a close playoff loss in 2015 when he did admirable fill in work for an injured Andy Dalton. He and the rest of the Texans backups are going to want to take advantage of the rare chance to get some game action. A lot of these guys are going to playing for future contracts or to prove that they deserve some more snaps in the playoffs.
The Titans cannot afford to take this Texans team lightly, starters or not. There is too much on the line and the margins are too narrow in the NFL to let up even a little bit against any opponent. There is simply no such thing as an automatic W in this league.
It would be nice to see Tennessee pounce on Houston early and put the game away as soon as possible so they can get get Derrick Henry and some other potentially banged up stars some rest late in this game themselves. The Titans could potentially be playing their playoff game on the road on a short week if they draw the Saturday time slot, so getting some guys an early start on treatment would be helpful.