Early in the week, I outlined what the Tennessee Titans should be trying to accomplish in a game that’s outcome didn’t matter for their playoff hopes.
At the time, I identified Malik Willis, Jordan Roos, Corey Levin, Monty Rice, and Jack Gibbens as backups who might need to step up when Week 18 rolled around.
It turns out that I picked the wrong quarterback, but other than that those backups had a very nice day considering the obstacles they faced.
Take it with a grain of salt, but PFF gave a very positive grade to center Corey Levin. In fact, he was the highest-graded offensive lineman for either team, and that is going to matter next week considering that Ben Jones is on I.R.
Josh Dobbs provided a spark for the Tennessee Titans on offense. Not only did he move well in the pocket and show the ability to make some things happen with his legs, but he had three passes that went for 30+ yards. While he got some help from the receivers, they also weren’t perfect which means that it is reasonable to expect that to be an average game for Josh Dobbs.
Maybe more importantly, despite being behind a defensive line comprised mostly of backups, linebackers Jack Gibbens and Monty Rice played like their hair was on fire.
In the short term, that should make Tennessee Titans fans more comfortable with their linebacker depth. Long term, if David Long is going to get a big deal from the Tennessee Titans this offseason, having guys who are competent and cheap around him like Gibbens, Rice, and Dylan Cole would be a huge asset.
Having all of those guys play well was nice, but the biggest reason to celebrate is that the Tennessee Titans lost.
Why the result mattered a lot for the Tennessee Titans
The results of the last game of the season are very simple for the Tennessee Titans. A win means that you get into the playoffs and you will be picking in the 20s, but a loss means that you will finish 7-10 and have a shot at a top-10 pick.
With two games left on the schedule for every other team in the NFL, these are the teams who are guaranteed to finish with a worse record or the same record, but with a higher pick due to the tiebreaker rules:
1. Houston Texans 2-12-1
2. Chicago Bears 3-12
3. Arizona Cardinals 4-11
4. Denver Broncos 4-11
5. Indianapolis Colts 4-10-1
6. Atlanta Falcons 5-10
7. L.A. Rams 5-10
Right now a top-10 pick in the draft is definitely on the table, and Tennessee Titans fans should be cheering for surprise wins from teams like the Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and Cleveland Browns this week.
Aside from Cleveland, if any of those teams lose this week it will lock them into a spot ahead of the Tennessee Titans.
If the Titans miss the playoffs, I think the smart money would be on them picking 10th or 11th.
Fans should be more optimistic about the Tennessee Titans’ chances in Week 18 after signs of life from the offense last night, but thanks to the absolute collapse brought on by injuries and some poor coaching decisions, a high draft pick would be a nice consolation prize.