When the Tennessee Titans go into Giants Stadium this Sunday, it will mark the second time in two years that a Titans-Jets match-up has much more importance than most would have thought coming into the season. Last year, the Titans entered Week 12 of the season with a league best 10-0 record and the New York Jets were making a legitimate playoff run with their (originally) un-retired QB, Brett Favre. When Tennessee “welcomed” the Jets to L.P. Field last season they were surprisingly on the top the NFL mountain; riding a backup quarterback, rookie sensation running back and stifling defense all the way there. While the Titans didn’t pull out the win against the Jets last year, they still managed to finish the season with the best record in football.
Tennessee doesn’t have nearly that much leeway this time around. What a difference a season can make.
While this season’s match-up is obviously much earlier than last year’s was, this one happens to be much more important to the Titans. As Lucas mentioned a couple days back, 86% of teams that start 0-2 miss the playoffs. With that said, Lucas also mentioned that the majority of teams that start 0-2 are terrible. The Titans aren’t terrible. Now, doesn’t two of us saying that make you feel a lot better? Yeah, I thought so. Good.
Let’s put a few things into perspective:
- The Titans are one of nine teams that have lost both of their first two games this season. In Tennessee’s two losses, the combined point differential has been six points- games against a Steelers team that won the Super Bowl last year, and a Texans team that many people have picked to make the playoffs (the Pats have been outscored by six point in a 1-1 start to the season). The average combined margin of loss for the other eight 0-2 teams this season is 26. That’s almost a three touchdown difference. Basically, statistically one of these nine 0-2 teams will make the playoffs this year. If you had to put money on one of them doing it, which one would you pick?
- It was pretty obvious that Tennessee was going to take some lumps the beginning of this season. Playing an extra preseason game. Opening the season three days early at the defending World Champions. Four of six on the road, on and on and on. I’m not trying to make excuses (even though I blatantly am), but looking at the schedule prior to the season, 4-2 coming into the bye week looked really good. I really think that 3-3 is very possible at this point and, considering the circumstances, would be a great start considering the hole that they’ve dug for themselves, while still being a reasonable scenario.
- After the bye week, only four of the Titans ten opponents were playoff teams last year. Four of Tennessee’s last six games are at L.P. Field. The Titans still get to play Jacksonville twice (see, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel).
It goes without saying that this season hasn’t started out quite like anyone would have wanted or expected. The good thing, though, is that both of Tennessee’s losses were painful: i.e. they should have won both of them. I know that that’s of little consolation to the wounded, and I know that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades (certainly not in standings), but in trying to appraise where the Titans stand right now it could be much worse. I’m not ready to give the division to Indy just yet.
So here we go to the beautiful Meadowlands to face Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the 2-0 New York Jets (this match-up looked a whole lot better on paper a month ago). While it’s way too early (theoretically) in the season to have a make it or break it contest, the Titans really, truly, emphatically need to win this ballgame. Any kind of quasi pep talk will be a whole lot harder next week if the Titans lose and I really don’t want to have to look up how many 0-3 teams have made the playoffs. I guess it’s probably just time to Titan Up.