2021 Record: 12-5 (7-8 in 2022)
Last Meeting: 11/05/18 28-14 Titans win. (Cowboys own all time series 8-7)
Head Coach: Mike Vrabel (48-32 as head coach)
Key Additions: WR Robert Woods, TE Austin Hooper, OL Jamarco Jones
Key Departures: WR AJ Brown, LB Jayon Brown, RB D’onta Foreman
The Tennessee Titans finished 12-5 and won their division in 2021, but fast forward to the here and now and the Titans have a much more challenging path to doing the same in 2022. With their own struggles and an emergence of Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars, all or nothing is on the line in Week 18 when they square off to decide who will wear the division crown.
With so much already decided and so much at stake in Week 18, it’s been noted by many including their coach Mike Vrabel that this Week 17 matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys may be an after thought and used as a way to get their team physically and mentally for that final week showdown. That line of thinking bodes well for a Cowboys team that still has playoff positioning available to them, and will be playing to win the game. It’s an interesting end of season dynamic unfolding on Thursday night in the Music city.
Player to watch… Malik Willis
With Ryan Tannehill’s season very much in doubt with an ankle injury, all eyes, and playoff hopes, turn to the rookie quarterback from Liberty. This is a tough spot for anybody, but especially so for Malik Willis who went from having minimal impact on the team’s season to the fate of it resting in his hands. With this week being more about preparation and focus for Week 18, look for the coaches to call a game plan that puts Willis in comfortable situations as they feel out the best game plan for him heading into their win or go home game.
For the Cowboys, Willis’ ability to run is an interesting dynamic because they have struggled containing those types of players this season, and will need to limit the impact Willis is able to have on the ground as well as in the air. The Cowboys will need to keep the main thing the focus and for the Cowboys the situation is crystal clear: just keep winning.
Don’t forget about… Hassan Haskins
With the Titans using this game to try and keep players fresh for next week, there is a chance that Derrick Henry may not play, or if he does, see limited snaps as a result. With that being the case, the Titans could turn to Hassan Haskins who has shown to be a quality special teams player but will get a bump up in this scenario to take on a bigger type of role.
Haskins has big-play ability and with a team looking to get out of the game clean and fast as they look forward to the next week, it would not be surprising at all to see the Titans force feed Haskins and his running mates on Thursday night. The Cowboys haven’t been great at stopping the run this season but they may get a heavy dose of it on Thursday and will need to be ready to stop it.