The Tennessee Titans flexed some divisional muscle with their Week 3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
That one firmly positioned the Titans (2-1) atop the AFC South and made them one of five teams to have sole possession of first place headed into Week 4.
“I mean it is good right now, but we understand it doesn’t really matter,” safety Kevin Byard said. “It is still early in the year. … At the end of the day, we have to keep piling on wins, keep piling on wins and just take each team as they come.”
Where they stand in the overall league hierarchy is a bit murkier. A survey of the latest NFL Power Rankings from notable media outlets found that Tennessee checks in as high as No. 5 (USA Today) and as low as No. 17 (multiple sites).
A rundown of where the Titans fall in notable NFL power rankings after Week 3 and what each outlet has to say about them:
SI.com: No. 15. Last week: No. 15
Consider me among the legions who don’t understand which version of the Titans they’re seeing week-to-week. On one hand, I was among those that considered Tennessee a favorite in the AFC. They were an easy team to like. They have been in the playoffs the past few seasons; plus, they’re super talented, particularly on offense, and they add Julio freaking Jones. They have a top young (relative) coach in Mike Vrabel, who understands elite NFL defensive play. But then Arizona mollywhopped Tennessee in Week 1, while the Seahawks bludgeoned the Titans for the first half of their Week 2 meeting. I’m not sure what Vrabel told his team at halftime in Seattle, but I’m curious, because ever since, the Titans have more resembled the force they were expected to be. So, the question lingers: are they the mishap-laden team from the first three halves of the season? Or the dominant, confident one from the second three halves? Regardless, upcoming games against the NY Jets and Jacksonville should help build out the record. But we won’t know about the Titans for a while now.
NFL.com: No. 15. Last week: No. 16
On Sunday, the Titans lost A.J. Brown to a hamstring injury early, Mike Vrabel curiously decided to sit Julio Jones late, and they turned the ball over three times without creating a takeaway of their own. This might sound like the recipe for yet another disappointing loss to the Colts, but nope. The Titans have won back-to-back games, thanks to their dynamic stars at quarterback and running back. Ryan Tannehill made key plays with his arm and legs on a day he didn't have his usual cast of characters, while Derrick Henry grinded out 113 yards on 28 carries. Tanny & The Big Dog are more than an amazing fictional drive-time sports-radio duo -- they're the heart and soul of these Titans.
The Athletic: No. 15. Last week: No. 17
Surprise! The Titans are about to run away with the AFC South. Sure, they were probably the preseason favorites, but only slightly over the Colts. And after just three weeks and a head-to-head win in Week 3 against Indianapolis, Titans fans might be safe making plans for a home game on wild-card weekend in January.
Yahoo! Sports: No. 16. Last week: No. 19
A.J. Brown is banged up and missed most of Sunday's game. Julio Jones was strangely absent for most of the second half Sunday, with only a vague and confusing answer as to why. "Just trying to manage where he's at, and the type of game the end of the game would be," Mike Vrabel said of Jones. It's a good thing the AFC South won't pose any threat to the Titans as they get healthy.
CBS Sports: No. 15. Last week: No. 17
After the opening-day loss, they've regrouped to take over first place in the division. They do need to get better on defense, but they will score a lot of points.
ESPN.com: No. 16. Last week: No. 16
The Titans haven't been able to connect as much on the play-action vertical shots, outside of Ryan Tannehill's 51-yard completion to Julio Jones in Week 2 against the Seahawks. As a result, Tannehill's yards per attempt is 7.40, which is less than his 8.7 average last season. That will get better with more big plays from play-action. One thing that has helped Tannehill's QBR is how well he has been able to run the ball. "It helps us as an offense, driving it down the field and getting into drives," running back Derrick Henry said. "We all love it whenever we get the positive play, especially when he gets out of the pocket and moves the ball down the field."
New York Post: No. 10. Last week: No. 10
The Titans are going to cruise to the AFC South title and have a leg up in playoff-seed jockeying. That much is clear after Ryan Tannehill threw three touchdown passes to relative unknowns to beat the hobbled Colts. Their Week 1 loss to the Cardinals doesn’t look nearly as bad given the direction of both teams since.
USA Today: No. 5. Last week: No. 12
The regular season feels like nothing more than a march to the AFC South title after three games for the Tennessee Titans. The Colts, their biggest threat, are 0-3. The other teams are the Jaguars and Texans. Mike Vrabel will have to coach the team into being ready and not sleepwalking, though. Things can always turn sideways—quickly. Next: at New York Jets
Bleacher Report: No. 17. Last week: No. 17
The good news is that by virtue of Sunday's victory over the rival Colts, the Titans have won two games in a row to assume first place in the AFC South. Derrick Henry rolled for 113 rushing yards on 28 carries, while quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three scoring passes and added 56 rushing yards of his own.
The bad news is that the win came at a cost. Star wideout A.J. Brown left early with a hamstring injury, while fellow wideout Julio Jones spent much of the second half as a spectator himself.
Pro Football Network: No. 17. Last week: No. 17
This is not the same Tennessee Titans we watched in 2019 and 2020. They’ve struggled on the offensive and defensive side of the ball so far this season. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been sharp, turning the ball over 6 times in just three games.
But Tennessee’s defense — especially the secondary — is the bigger question. We thought that may be the case, given their youth and lack of viable veterans on the back end. Yet, I also thought the Titans’ offense could make up for some of the offseason defensive losses. That hasn’t materialized to this point, which is why they land at 17th in the NFL Power Rankings.
Sporting News: No. 11. Last week: No. 13
The Titans' loss against the Cardinals doesn't look as bad with strong rebounds against the Seahawks and Colts. They are still feeling their way around a new offense but the question marks will remain for the defense.
Athlon Sports: No. 16. Last week: No. 17
Kind of a strange start to the year for the Titans and the A.J. Brown injury is concerning but given the state of the AFC South, can Mike Vrabel really just look at the first part of the season as a way to work out some issues before trying to push his guys to the next level? Likely.