Times were pretty good in Music City, until this past weekend. It has been an uphill battle with injuries all season long, but the Tennessee Titans found a way to win six in a row, and then inexplicably dropped one at home to the lowly Houston Texans.
The good news is that the Tennessee Titans are still in good shape, holding the AFC’s best record at 8-3 and effectively having a three-game cushion over the Indianapolis Colts. You also have to give credit to the team for grinding out wins with injuries piling up by the day, but at the same time have to worry about an alarming trend.
They beat playoff 2020 teams five times in a row, including wins against the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams, who are two of the most feared teams in the NFL. Yet they completely floundered and lost brutally to the Texans and New York Jets. How does that happen?
This is not talent-related, they are related to the preparation and simply come ready to play a football game.
Yes, context matters, and maybe the Titans just ran out of gas this past Sunday with how short-handed they are. But based on the past few years, this does not seem like a coincidence.
The remaining schedule and playoffs are a huge test for Tennessee Titans
It cannot be overstated that a common theme among the Titans under Mike Vrabel is making games harder than they have to be by needing to score last-minute points to either tie or win the game. For better or worse, the Tennessee Titans just aren’t consistent enough and they play to the level of their competition, last Sunday the Titans found a way to play below the competition.
Earning wins in the nail-biters does build character but you cannot keep relying on winning that way because sooner or later, one or two plays will not go your way and you will lose the game. Against the Texans, nothing seemed to go the Titans’ way, and they did not even have a chance to come back at the end.
Playing with expectations has clearly shown to be a tough endeavor for this team, and it could be seen all over the field on Sunday. The offense made mistake after mistake, and even the defense, who yet again kept the team in the game, failed to register a sack against a team that is giving up 2.6 per game.
It was just an underwhelming performance in many more ways than one, and you have to wonder about the week leading up to what should be these easy games. Exactly what is Vrabel having the team do in practice?
Who knows, but these kinds of games just wreak of overconfidence, and that should not sit well with fans heading into the playoffs. If the Titans end up as the top AFC seed, which has a very good chance of happening, consider what the scenario will be.
Derrick Henry is likely to be back during that time, Julio Jones could be much more impactful if his time on IR is beneficial, and the same can be said about Bud Dupree. If the Titans go into the playoffs with a mostly or fully healthy squad, with the parity in the AFC, they are likely to be favorites to reach Super Bowl 56, and that is a bad sign.
Does anyone remember what they did to the top-seeded Ravens as the sixth seed in January 2020? That is very well what could happen to the Titans if they continue to lay an egg as they do oftentimes when they are heavy favorites to win.
This is an easy fix, and nothing will motivate a team to fix their glaring flaws like the Titans’ tendency to lose to horrible teams being exposed to everyone who follows the NFL. But if a solution is so simple, why haven’t the Tennessee Titans found it yet.
Even more concerning, can they find it before the playoffs get here when they don’t get a mulligan?