With 6 games to go the Tennessee Titans find themselves in very familiar surroundings, 5-5 and in need of a very strong finish to make the playoffs.
This was the season the season the Titans wanted to push past 9-7, push past the “maybe” make the playoffs and push past the weekly roller coaster of which team is going to show up.
So, far they have not pushed past any of it and look on track for yet another 9-7 finish.
After a 2-4 start the Titans have rallied to win 3 of 4 to get to 5-5.
“We’ve given ourselves a really good shot,” said safety Kevin Byard, “to be in this hunt for the playoffs, but this is the moment, where like you said, we need to get ahead of the pack a little bit.”
History does not set a strong precedent though. This is already the 5th time the Titans have been 5-5 since 2010, they have never finished better than 9-7 in any of those seasons.
2010 – (5-5) Start – (6-10) Finish
2011 – (5-5) Start – (9-7) Finish
2016 – (5-5) Start – (9-7) Finish
2018 – (5-5) Start – (9-7) Finish
2019 – (5-5) Start – (?) Finish
Only one time was that 9-7 record good enough to make the post season. In the 2016 season Mike Mularkey led the Titans to a playoff victory in Kansas City and was then fired after losing in New England.
So, the Titans are back in the 5-5 wheel and it will likely take a stronger finish than 9-7 to get them back into the playoffs and they know there is not much wiggle room left. “No, not for a lot of teams,” said cornerback Logan Ryan, “with playoff seeding and stuff like that, we’re going to have to go out and play well against Jacksonville.”
Headed into last week it looked like the Titans would certainly need 10 wins to make the playoffs and then the lowly Dolphins won in Indianapolis and the struggling Browns knocked off Buffalo. With tie breakers working against them 9 wins would put them in a scary situation, but if we have learned one thing over the years it is teams are going to lose when no one expects them to.
Byard says the Titans can only count on themselves and what they do, “The only thing we can really think about is being 1-0 at the end of every single week. We can’t control what other teams are doing.”
After a bye this weekend the Titans return to Nissan Stadium to host the (4-5) Jacksonville Jaguars. That is the only team left on their schedule with a losing record and likely the only game they will be favored in the rest of the way.