NFL: The Mystery of the Tennessee Titans

The NFL is full of surprises. Some of them last a whole year while some span only a few weeks. For example, this year the Tennessee Titans are 3-4 after making the playoffs a year ago. The Titans three wins have come against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, and Philadelphia Eagles.

Beating the Jags can be viewed as a quality win. How did that game go? The final score was 9-6 and neither team scored a touchdown.

So the defense was on fire, right? Not entirely.

The Titans allowed Blake Bortles and company to gain 232 total yards and only forced one turnover. The Titans didn’t do anything particularly well in that game Their leading receiver caught two passes for 54 yards while their leading rusher averaged 3.2 yards per carry. This game was a stroke of luck for Tennessee but maybe one of the other wins paints a clearer picture.

If Tennessee can’t win a game convincingly against a quality team, maybe they can against a bad team, right? Taking a look at their victory over the Texans, there’s only one thing to say. If your team’s leading receiver in a football game is a safety, there’s a problem with the offense.

That’s exactly what happened with Tennessee. Dane Cruikshank, a safety, was the Titans leading receiver with a 66-yard touchdown grab. It was thrown by fellow safety Kevin Byard on a fake punt. The defense gave up 434 yards as both sides of the ball struggled against the Texans. The defense did force a turnover and four sacks. But even that win doesn’t seem like a quality win.

If there’s any game that proves the Titans are a quality team, it’s the win over the Eagles. Former first-round pick Corey Davis finally showed his worth catching 9 passes on 15 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown in overtime to seal the game. This breakout game by Davis is suddenly made less impressive by the Eagles pass defense being 22nd in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game.

The rest of the Titans’ offense was stagnant as always as the leading rusher was a quarterback and the swiss cheese defense allowed 432 yards and forced the ritualistic one turnover. So the Eagles win is definitely a quality win, but nothing particularly impressive, which would be expected from a 3-3 team.

On the other hand, the Titans have three losses that make them even more of an enigma. The Buffalo Bills managed a field goal in the final seconds to beat them. The second loss was a 27-20 affair versus the fraudulent Miami Dolphins, while the third once was an absolute demolition versus the Baltimore Ravens where Marcus Mariota was sacked 10 times

In the end, the Titans don’t do anything particularly well and it’s a mystery how they’re 3-4, which is still good considering how bad the AFC South is. It’s likely a mix of luck and more luck. There’s really no other way to paint it. Either that luck will continue and they’ll find themselves coasting into an undeserving playoff spot or they’ll start to sink.

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