As part of our mid-season analysis, RealSport are looking at reasons why the fans of the cellar-dwellers of each division still have reasons to be optimistic about their futures. We continue the series with a look at the Tennessee Titans. See the other editions below: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
Sure, the Tennessee Titans are bottom of their division, but the AFC South is the weakest division in the NFL right now. It’s the only one where all four teams have a losing record, and there are only two wins between the Colts (4-5) in first place and the Titans (2-6). The Titans also have a better point differential than the two teams above them in the division, due to the fact that they’ve given up the fewest points in the division. Perhaps their biggest reason to be cheerful is the return of first-round draft pick Marcus Mariota after two weeks out injured. During his absence, the team only managed to score one touchdown; against the Saints in Week 9, Mariota threw for 371 yards and four TD passes.
In fairness, the Saints defense messed up big time on his first score, a mix-up allowing Delanie Walker to go 61 yards to the end zone, but you can’t blame all four touchdowns on poor defense. Speaking of defense, the Titans are looking good on that front. As mentioned earlier, they’ve given up the fewest points out of the teams in the AFC South, and that stems from not giving up too much yardage. This season, they’ve only allowed 329 yards of overall offense per game; only five teams in the league have allowed fewer yards. Teams are also only converting 36 percent of third downs (35/97) against the Titans and 33 percent of fourth downs (3/9). One negative for the Titans is that they’re 0-4 at home so far this season. On the flip side, though, that means they’re 2-2 on the road. Aside from the teams at the very top, I think most would gladly take a .500 record away from home.
If they can find a way to translate their decent form from the wins in Tampa Bay and New Orleans to their four remaining home games, their season will be on the up. Add to that the fact that they’ve still got four divisional games to play in the second half of the season and they could easily go from worst to first in only a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, two of those divisional games come in the last two weeks of the season, but the AFC South is currently so woeful that, if other results go their way, the Titans could get into the play-offs with no more than four wins from now until the end of the year. Sure, it’s a stretch, but I have a feeling the Titans at least won’t be the worst team in the division come January 3rd.