NFL Football News – Tennessee Titans Is The Division Leader Nobody Is Talking About
Beating your last two opponents — both of whom have a losing record — by a grand total of six points isn’t going to get you a lot of national recognition. Neither is the fact that their immensely talented but somewhat injury-riddled young franchise quarterback has already missed time during the 2017 NFL season.
Those are just a few of the reasons why, despite the fact that many people believed they were a legitimate contender for the AFC South division title, nobody’s really talking about the Tennessee Titans as of right now. And yet, after a critical win against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, the Titans currently sit atop their division with a 5-3 record, and would be the #4 seed in the AFC playoffs if the postseason started today.
A banged-up Marcus Mariota helped the Titans put away the Ravens in the fourth quarter last weekend, giving Tennessee their third straight win, and control of the AFC South. The Titans are one of only three teams in the NFL to have two different guys ranked among the top 25 running backs, in terms of rushing yards (Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry). Wide receiver Rishard Matthews, one of the most consistently overlooked pass catchers in the NFL, is ranked among the top 26 players at his position, in terms of yardage total. Wide receiver Corey Davis, the team’s top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, has come back from a nagging injury that has curtailed his first season in the NFL. Mariota is getting healthier as well.
On defense, linebacker Wesley Woodyard is having a career year, as he’s tied for third in the AFC with 71 tackles (though Titans coaches credit him with 102), and he has two sacks and three pass breakups as well. He recorded 20 tackles by himself last Sunday, which was the highest total of any player since the team moved to Tennessee. Woodyard and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey are big reasons why Tennessee’s run defense ranks in the top five in yards per carry and top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game. Safety Kevin Byard might be the team’s MVP at this point in the season; his seven total takeaways (six interceptions, one fumble recovery) are easily career bests, and he’s becoming that playmaker in the secondary that this team has badly needed for year. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, the team’s other selection in the first round of the 2017 draft, is a full-time rookie starter at cornerback and returner for Tennessee, and has looked good doing both.
That’s why Tennessee very much remains in the driver’s seat for the division crown. Five of their last seven games are against the Colts (whom they just beat by two touchdowns a couple of weeks ago), the Texans (without Deshaun Watson), the Cardinals (without Carson Palmer or David Johnson), and the 49ers (who haven’t won a game all year). With a 5-3 record right now, there’s a very plausible scenario where the Titans could finish the year with double-digit wins.