The Tennessee Titans had a huge opportunity in front of them this past Sunday when they traveled to Indianapolis to take on theAFC South rival Indianapolis Colts. Last week I wrote an article and said the Titans were in a prime position to conquer their demons against a division rival whose young star QB, Andrew Luck, carried an 8-0 record against them. He is now 9-0 and his team, that had a 10 game winning streak, has now increased it to 11 games. The Titans failed. They allowed the Colts to put up 21 unanswered points and couldn’t overcome it despite putting up the next 17 points in the game.
Damn, did I want to see the Titans beat the Colts on their turf. Now I feel like a fan of my hometown Cleveland Browns saying, “Wait until next year…”.
The Titans game against the Colts is officially history so now all we can do is look forward to the present, which is a date with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this Sunday. If The Titans stand any realistic chance at making the playoffs they are going to have to run the table and still need some help by the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts stumbling down the stretch.
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I like to try and stay realistic by tempering playoff hopes and look at this year more as an incredible improvement over the previous years, especially last year’s 3-13 campaign, and look optimistically at what 2017’s season will hold. There are a lot of new players and coaches on the Titans roster, and at the very least this season was an incredible step forward in the right direction, which, eventually, is the playoffs.
DeMarco Murray has been nothing short of spectacular. The NFL, and sports in general, is so quick to praise a player or dump them depending on production from one game to another, let alone when a player comes off a disappointing season. Murray was incredibly misused and under utilized in his one year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Titans have been the true beneficiary of that. Murray has played outstanding and entered the 2016 season in phenomenal shape, well rested, and ready to prove doubters wrong.
The Titans went from having one of the most atrocious lines in football to being highlighted as a Top 3 offensive line in football this year. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has made extraordinary strides in his sophomore campaign. Free agent WR Rishard Mathews, who the Titans acquired in the offseason, went from being a quiet WR3 on the roster to emerging as the Titans WR1 and Mariota’s primary target over the past several weeks. Things are truly looking good moving forward.
Head Coach Mike Mularkey said the Titans wanted to be an “exotic-smashmouth” football team. Early in the offseason, many pundits found it almost comical, but Mularkey’s vision has come alive and is flourishing.
Frank Schwab of Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner believes the Titans will be picked by many analysts next year as a breakout team.
The Titans have a very good chance at finishing at .500, which would be a five win improvement over 2015. I must admit that in late August I predicted the Titans would finish 7-9 and they should certainly be able to hit that mark, if not exceed it.
The Titans have a very winnable game against a potentially Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears team this weekend before heading into the bye week. Then they will be finishing up against an elite defensive unit in the Denver Broncos, the hit or miss Kansas City Chiefs, and AFC South divisional opponents in the bottom dwelling Jacksonville Jaguars and division leading Houston Texans.
One game at a time, though. Let’s first get this W in Chicago and head into a much needed week of rest.
Until next time, have a Happy Thanksgiving and Titan Up!