Had the Tennessee Titans lost last Sunday at Baltimore, there would have been plenty of discussion about a fifth straight 9-7 season.
Instead, they improved to 7-3 with their 30-24 overtime triumph and strengthened their standing in the crowded AFC playoff race. Tennessee is one of nine franchises in the conference with at least six victories, but if the season ended after last week it would have been the first wild card team.
Now, with six games remaining the Titans need only to go .500 the rest of the way to get to 10 victories and break their record streak of nine-win seasons.
With that in mind, AllTitans reporters David Boclair and Michael Hogan look at the remaining games and offer their predictions for which ones they think the Titans will – and won’t – win, based on the current state of affairs.
Week 12 at Indianapolis
Boclair: The Colts’ current issues with COVID-19 have changed the complexion of this contest dramatically in the last few days. However, as the Titans proved earlier in the season tough situations can bring out the best in good teams, and Indianapolis is a good team. Colts 30, Titans 27.
Hogan: Considering the Colts have dominated the Titans in recent years, including two weeks ago, this will be a tough one. However, Indianapolis will be without a few key pieces due to COVID-19. I think the momentum of the victory over the Ravens carries over into this one. Titans 27, Colts 13.
Week 13 vs. Cleveland
Boclair: Cleveland is not the same team that Tennessee whipped in the 2019 opener, but the Titans are better too – and to a greater degree, because of what they accomplished in last year’s postseason and the first part of this season. This one won’t be as close as the records suggest it should be. Titans 38, Browns 13.
Hogan: The Browns (7-3) have a fairly explosive offense and rank third in the league in rushing offense. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt make for a nice one-two punch in the backfield, and the Titans rank in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense. However, the Titans and current rushing leader Derrick Henry can run the ball just as well. Tennessee wins a ground-and-pound matchup. Titans 17, Browns 14.
Week 14 at Jacksonville:
Boclair: Remember when Tennessee struggled to win its home opener against Jacksonville back in Week 2? Seriously, that was a close, competitive contest from start to finish. This one will make people question whether their memories are playing tricks on them. Titans 41, Jaguars 10.
Hogan: The Jaguars have lost nine straight after defeating the Colts in Week 1. The Titans needed a last-minute Harold Landry interception to close the door on the Jaguars in Week 2. This game could be closer than the Titans would like it to be, but the better team will still come out on top. Titans 34, Jaguars 17.
Week 15 vs Detroit
Boclair: The final home game for a team surging toward a playoff berth should be an amazing setting. But this is 2020. Still, whatever burst of energy the Lions get from this weekend’s coaching change will fade by mid-December and Detroit won’t be able to match Tennessee’s intensity. Titans 34, Lions 13.
Hogan: Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who ranks seventh in passing yards this season, will be a challenge for the Titans defense, which ranks near the bottom of the league in pass defense. I consider this as the biggest trap game left on the schedule, but Tennessee pulls it out. Titans 21, Lions 17.
Week 16 at Green Bay
Boclair: Chances are the Packers will have the NFC North clinched by this point and will start to turn their focus toward the postseason. Players with injuries that normally would not sideline them will be held out. Aaron Rodgers won’t play the whole game so that rookie Jordan Love can get some experience. Meanwhile, the Titans will give it their all and get a much-needed win. Titans 30, Packers 24.
Hogan: A trip to Green Bay in late December will trip the Titans up. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having another Pro-Bowl worthy season, and the Packers are once again legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the NFC. Packers 28, Titans 17.
Week 17 at Houston
Boclair: For the second year in a row, Tennessee wraps up the regular season at Houston. Last year, the Texans had first place in the division wrapped up and rested most of their best players, which allowed the Titans to win a game they had to have just to make the playoffs. This time Tennessee takes a break while Houston tries to make its record in a bad year look just a little better. Texans 30, Titans 23.
Hogan: The Texans have had a rough season, but they are playing better now with wins in three of their last four contests. Quarterback Deshaun Watson single-handedly put the Texans on his back in an overtime thriller against the Titans in October (a Tennessee victory). The Titans still should have something to play for in Week 17. Thus, they’ll pull it out. Titans win 35-28.
Boclair: 11-5, tied-first place, AFC South (lose head-to-head tiebreaker with Indianapolis)
Hogan: 12-4, first place, AFC South