Despite a three-game losing streak, the Tennessee Titans are as close as ever to making the playoffs after a painfully long drought.
These last three weeks have been hell on Earth for Tennessee Titans fans. After starting out the year 8-4 (though not playing particularly well) and leading the division, the Titans have lost three-consecutive games, all to NFC West teams, and find themselves clinging on to the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. The good news is the Titans “control their own destiny”, so it’s all in their own hands.
With the Buffalo Bills losing to the New England Patriots last week, it set up the Titans to have the all-important tiebreaker over the Bills and Los Angeles Chargers, the two primary teams the Titans are fighting for the final playoff spot with. The Titans also own the tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens, who are currently entrenched as the fifth seed and host a measly Cincinnati Bengals team in Week 17, but the Ravens would have to lose to trigger that tiebreaker because the Ravens have a better record than the Titans. Of course, anything can happen, but the Ravens are heavily favored to win, leaving the final spot to be vied for between Tennessee, Buffalo and Los Angeles.
Tennessee Titans Playoff Scenarios
The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with:
• A win
• A tie and a Chargers loss or tie
• A tie and a Bills loss or tie
• A Chargers loss and a Bills loss
The Titans can clinch the fifth seed with:
• A win and a Ravens loss
The Titans miss the playoffs with:
• A loss or tie and a Chargers win and a Bills win
Disregard the ties because it’s highly unlikely that will occur, and we’re left with two potential ways for the Titans to make the playoffs. They either win and clinch automatically or the Chargers and Bills lose to the Oakland Raiders (Chargers home game) and Miami Dolphins (Dolphins home game), respectively. Considering the state of the Raiders and Dolphins, the Chargers and Bills should come away with wins. So the Titans are essentially in a must-win game on Sunday.
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Where this all gets slightly complicated, or at least a bit more interesting, is if the Jacksonville Jaguars rest their starters against the Titans on Sunday. The Jaguars are locked into the third seed, so the outcome of their game on Sunday has absolutely no bearing on their playoff standing. But coming off a disappointing loss to the Fighting Jimmy Garoppolos and sporting a relatively young team with little playoff experience, head coach Doug Marrone might very well play his guys for most of the game.
Then there’s the added factor of it being a division game, and one that has become a bit of a bitter rivalry. The Jaguars knocked the Titans out of playoff contention on Christmas Eve of last year and the Titans lost QB Marcus Mariota to injury in the process. The Jaguars can do the former once again on New Year’s Eve this year, and if they did so, they would avoid playing the Titans for a third time this season, though this last time it would be in the Wild Card Round as a No. 3 vs. 6 seed matchup.
Titans fans probably feel upset and ashamed with how their team has played this season, but this is the time to back the team as much as possible. The Tennessee Titans have not made the playoffs in nine years. I repeat: NINE YEARS! Making the playoffs is not something to take for granted, regardless of how good the team actually is.