Standings Watch: It's A Horse Race

David Boclair

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans are now as close to first place as they are to last.

Following Sunday’s action, the Titans (5-5) are alone in third place in the AFC South. They trail co-leaders Indianapolis and Houston by one game (the Colts hold the tiebreaker advantage on the Texans based on a head-to-head victory) and they lead last-place Jacksonville by a game.

It remains the NFL’s tightest division race, from top to bottom. The only one that comes close is the AFC West, where three wins separate the teams at the top and bottom. Ones with significantly greater divides are the AFC North (eight games), AFC East (seven games) and NFC West (six games).

“It’s a great opportunity,” coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. “It’s no different than the Kentucky Derby, 20 horses, … you say go, and they all start running. They usually get lumped together pretty tightly, and through the course of the race, or the season, there’ll be breaks, or there’ll be a good opportunity. A hole will open up, and someone, or a horse will take advantage – or in this case, the team will take advantage of the opportunity.”

Things will begin to sort themselves out this week when Tennessee hosts Jacksonville and Houston hosts Indianapolis in a pair of intra-divisional contests (the Texans and Colts play on Thursday). With a victory over the Jaguars, the Titans are guaranteed to end next Sunday tied for second (barring a tie in the other game). With a loss, Tennessee will fall back into a tie with the Jaguars and back to the bottom of the standings based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

All four teams have at least two remaining games against division opponents.

A look at the current AFC South standings, with each team’s division and conference records:

Team
Record
vs. Division
vs. AFC

Indianapolis

6-4

3-0

5-4

Houston

6-4

2-1

5-2

Tennessee

5-5

0-2

3-4

Jacksonville

4-6

1-3

4-4

Sunday’s results

Indianapolis 33, Jacksonville 13

Baltimore 41, Houston 7

Bye – Tennessee

This week’s games

Tennessee vs. Jacksonville

Indianapolis at Houston (Thursday)

The last time the Titans won the division was 2008. Since then, they have finished last three times, in third place four times (including each of the last two years) and second four times.

During that time, the other three have all won the division at least once. Houston has done so six times, including four of the last five. Indianapolis has done it five times and Jacksonville once. (Kevin Byard addresses Tennessee’s division title drought in the above video).

“Going into this stretch and getting into the playoffs, the games get a little harder, a little tougher,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “I think everyone in this locker room knows that and looks forward to the fight.”

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