In keeping with the Top Ten theme of the week here at Rambling Ever On, I decided to list the Top Ten things that have been bouncing around in my head the past few days. Obviously, these are the Titans’ related thoughts I’ve had. I do think about other things from time to time. So, without further ado:
10. The J-E-T-S are the worst, worst, worst. (A win by the Jets last night would have knocked the Indianapolis Colts to 5-7. That would have been huge for the Titans and their playoff hopes.)
9. The Colts are the team I am most concerned about in the AFC South at this point. The Houston Texans are falling apart, losing their last 3 games. (To be fair, they have been against decent competition and have all been close games.) The Colts are 2-0 against the Titans this season which means the Titans have to finish at least a game ahead of them at season’s end. That will not be easy and will most likely require the Colts to go at best 2-2 in their final four games. The Colts are dangerous though, because this is exactly the time when Andrew Luck will play like a top 5 quarterback and get his team to the playoffs.
8. Speaking of Andrew Luck, he was anointed as an all-time great QB before he ever set foot on the field in the NFL. So, when he has games like he did last night, the talk about how “elite” he is intensifies. I’ll give Luck his due here: He plays well in clutch situations and he seems to be at his best when it matters the most. Those are elite qualities. The biggest issue I have with him is that his play, taken as a whole, does not match all the praise and admiration it receives. He is a sub 60% passer for his career. He has an 87.1 passer rating for his career. His TD%, INT% and Yards per attempt are all decent, but not at the top of the league. The other talented quarterback in Luck’s division is better in all those career numbers. ALL OF THEM. And in many cases, Marcus Mariota’s numbers are substantially better than Luck’s. But the narrative has been that Luck is great from the very beginning while Mariota received mixed reviews prior to his draft. Those NFL experts are going to stick to that narrative as long as they can even when all the evidence is saying something different.
7. The Colts play the Texans this weekend. I honestly don’t know who to cheer against. (I can’t cheer for either of these teams.) If the Colts win, and the Titans beat the Texans in the final game of the season, that would essentially eliminate the Texans from the playoffs. But, a Colts win gets them to 7-6 and in first place in the AFC South, since they hold the tie-breaker over the Titans. All things considered, the Colts winning is probably the best scenario for the Titans.
6. Every article I read about the playoffs, the AFC South gets mocked. I realize this division has no great team. I also realize this division has been pretty awful the past few seasons. But right now, it has three teams at 6-6. In other words: Only one team in the division has a losing record with only four games to go. That’s not as bad as it could be and not nearly as bad as the national media would have you believe. If you want the worst division in the NFL, look no further than the NFC West.
5. The Titans will not go 4-0 in the their final four games. This scenario is unlikely because the Titans have not won more than two games in a row at any point this season. And with games against the Broncos, Chiefs, and Texans, 4-0 is a very difficult task.
4. More likely, the Titans go 3-1 in their final four games and the Texans and Colts each go 2-2 in their final four. This is not unreasonable. The Titans would need to beat the Broncos this Sunday at home, lose to the Chiefs on the road, and then win their final two games. That would mean they never had to win more than 2 games in a row at any point in the season. See number 5 for more on that.
3. The Colts and Texans could finish 1-3 in their final 4 games. It’s possible. Both are very flawed teams. The Texans are in a death spiral already. They finish the season with the Colts, Jags, Bengals, and finally the Titans. The Colts are playing better but have a slightly more difficult schedule with Houston, Minnesota, Oakland, and then Jacksonville. One of them gets a win next week, unless a tie happens. Both of these teams finishing 1-3 is probably not going to happen. One of them will likely win at least two of their final four games. My bet is on the Colts for that.
2. The Tennessee Titans can beat the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are not a good run defense. The Titans are good at running the ball. Titans’ coaches: Put those things together and you have a real shot of winning this game. Don’t overthink things.
1. The playoffs are still unlikely for the Titans. I don’t say that to depress anyone. It’s just the math and the schedule that tell me it will be very difficult for things to work out for the Titans this year. Even so, there is a chance and this team is capable of making a run. I for one choose to hope for the best. Let’s start this run on Sunday by getting to above .500 for the first time since Week One of the 2015 season.