Every AFC team has played at least eight games. Let’s take a very early look at where the Tennessee Titans stand after Week 9 in the AFC playoff picture.
AFC Division Leaders
AFC East – New England Patriots (7-2)
AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals (6-3)
AFC South – Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
AFC Wild Card Leaders
WC #1 – Denver Broncos (7-1)
WC #2 – New York Jets (5-4)
AFC Wild Card Runner-Ups (No Specific Order)
San Diego Chargers (4-4)
Tennessee Titans (4-4)
Miami Dolphins (4-4)
Other AFC Teams
Cleveland Browns (4-5)
Baltimore Ravens (3-5)
Oakland Raiders (3-5)
Buffalo Bills (3-6)
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
Houston Texans (2-6)
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
Barring a major collapse from the Denver Broncos, the Titans have two ways to play themselves into a playoff spot. They can win the AFC South or earn the AFC’s second wild-card berth. While the second wild card appears like a much simpler task, winning the division would guarantee at least one playoff game at LP Field. A division championship is a realistic goal as five of the Titans’ last eight opponents are .500 or worse, two of which come against the AFC South-leading Colts.
Where to begin? Titan Sized reader Ricky Merritt put it quite simply and accurately:
— Ricky Merritt (@titansfan4life) October 29, 2013
Either sweep November or replace the Nov. 14 vs Colts game with a Dec. 1 at Colts win. Losing both of those games would put them at six losses (and the Colts with at least eight wins and the head-to-head tiebreaker) before the Broncos hosted Tennessee on Dec. 8. Barring an improbable upset, that puts Tennessee in a best-case scenario as a 9-7 crapshoot team. Anyone who remembers 2011 should know how that goes.
One of the good things about the wild-card race is that the top challengers (Jets and Chargers) have both lost head-to-head matchups against Tennessee. Who knows how this Dolphins team will respond with this Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito controversy flying around. Only other team who poses a threat is the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, however, they’ve got major issues on both sides of the football.
Sweeping November (or 3/4 November plus Dec. 1 Colts) would consist of going at least 4-1 against Rams-Jaguars-Colts-Raiders-Colts. So far, they’re 1-0. They can’t throw away Raiders. God forbid they mess up against Jacksonville—again.
This will probably serve as the last playoff picture overview before Week 13 or Week 14. That’s when things become clearer and the schedules are condensed. Hopefully, Titans are 7-4/8-4 and well ahead of other playoff hopefuls.