The Houston Texans are going into their matchup with the Tennessee Titans missing three key players in C.J. Stroud (concussion), Tank Dell (leg) and Nico Collins (calf) are all either out, or presumed to be. We also heard that defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (ankle) will likely miss the game on Sunday. But, to make matters worse, it appears as though Blake Cashman (hamstring) may also miss the game on Sunday.
Arguably, those are the five best Texans players and are the five-highest-rated players on Pro Football Focus for the team. Save for Steven Sims who only played three snaps for the Texans. And what's worse about losing all five guys, is that they're all the keys to the best parts of the team.
Collins, Dell, and Stroud were the high-powered engines that helped the Texans get into the playoff race in the first place and Anderson and Cashman have been arguably the two best players for the Texans whenever anyone tried to run on Houston. Plus, Anderson is getting better at getting after the quarterback and Cashman is a master at pass coverage (for a linebacker).
Now, the passing game and run defense is dead in the water with injuries to all five men. The Texans aren't doomed, after all the Titans aren't a great team, but the Titans are pretty solid against the run, so leaning on the running game may not be a great idea. Likewise, the Titans are going to lean heavily on Derrick Henry to try and get the win. Henry is done as an elite runner, but he may still have enough in the tank for him to bruise a battered defense.
Something that was likely to happen even if Anderson and Cashman end up in the lineup, as the Titans are starting Kris Levis at quarterback. Since he's a rookie quarterback, you can expect far more rushes from the Titans backfield, just to help him from getting overwhelmed.
And if Anderson and Cashman are out, then the Titans will probably attack the defense head-on. And that may not go the Texans' way.