ProFootballDoc: Titans Poised To Rest Key Players Tonight Versus Cowboys

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The last two weeks of the NFL season are all about making moves for after the regular season. For teams that are out of it, it’s about next year. For other teams, that means all in to get to the playoffs. For the post-season bound it’s about putting your team in the best possible playoff position.

Denver fired Nathaniel Hackett to get a jump on the head coaching search. It was well known that with new ownership and a horrific season, the Broncos would have a new head coach next year. However, it would be incredibly bad form to start a recruiting search and gauge interest from candidates without making this move. The Raiders have a 1% chance to make the playoffs but they are giving that up to park Derek Carr to avoid a large injury guarantee in preparation to move on from him.

Playoff bound teams like the Eagles and Ravens are slow playing the return of their starting quarterbacks. Philadelphia is poised to save Jalen Hurts for a later day, even though they have not clinched the #1 seed/bye and he could play with his SC joint sprain.

The main goal for the Ravens is to have a healthy knee for Lamar Jackson for the playoffs, even though they have a chance to win the division.

The Titans are going all in to try to get into the playoffs and that means resting as many key or injured players as possible for tonight’s game hosting the Cowboys. The key matchup will be versus the Jaguars next week for the AFC South title and the right to host a Wild Card playoff game.

Our algorithm for five weekly picks based on health sits just under 60% at 45-31-4 (note holiday hangover math correction but same +14 ATS). Here is tonight’s Sports Injury Central Field View and analysis.

DAL -12.5 @ TEN

Every facet of the Titans is “red” on the Field View. The SIC scores for the team, offense run/pass and defense run/pass are all low. The makes for a large 27 point health difference. Even though Derrick Henry has returned to limited practice, it has been our belief that he would be rested. He is listed as doubtful. Load management is not a thing in the NFL, so Tennessee will rest their star by assigning him an injury designation of hip. We are not saying the Titans are lying – in Week 17 almost every player has something hurting. We are saying we reviewed the Week 16 film and do not see a significant hip issue that would prevent Henry from playing if the game was meaningful.

Ryan Tannehill is among the Titans starters who won’t suit up tonight. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Cowboys And Titans Kickoff At 8:15 EST

It doesn’t help that Ryan Tannehill is still out with only a slight chance to return next week. Malik Willis will make his fourth start and so far this season has stats would be poor if only it was one game throwing for a combined 234 yards with 0 TDs and 3 INTs. That was with a run game and Derrick Henry. The passing game may get even tougher tonight without a stacked box. The offensive line is down four of five starters too.

Defensively, the Titans are no better. They will be without all four starting linebackers and three of four in secondary. For the Cowboys offense, Tony Pollard should play thru his quad contusion but even without him, the clear advantage is to Dallas.

Earlier in the week the line was -9.5 and the total was 41 when we indicated the impending resting of starters like Henry and advised to jump on the Cowboys and under. Even with the line movement, Dallas is poised to dominant easily.

Enjoy the last NFL game of 2022.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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