Tennessee Titans… Are they for real? – Week 7
Tennessee’s record is by far the most surprising. If anyone had to pick a team to go 6-0 prior to the beginning of the season, there is absolutely no chance that someone would have picked the Titans. The question is why are the Titans 6-0?
One reason is that Tennessee is undefeated after 6 games due to the fact that they have had a relatively easy schedule. Every team they have defeated does not have a record above .500.
However, they have defeated some tough teams including Jacksonville, Minnesota and Baltimore. The point being that they haven’t played against very successful teams. Would their record be different if they had played against Pittsburgh, the Giants, Buffalo, Tampa, Carolina, Dallas, New England or Indianapolis? The answer to that question is quite debatable. The reality is that their schedule is only going to get tougher. They have to play Indianapolis twice, Jacksonville on the road, Green Bay and Pittsburgh. That’s 5 games out of 10 against teams who have a record of .500 or better.
A critical component to the Titans’ success is that their defense has been completely shutting down the opposition. Honestly, do you think it’s easy to beat a team that only allows an average of 11 points per game? The Titans lead the league with a net point differential of 83 points, meaning that overall they have scored 83 more points more than they have allowed. This means that they are outscoring the opponent by an average of 13.83 points per game! Furthermore, they are tied with Green Bay for first place in the NFL with a turnover differential of +6. Tennessee’s ability to win turnover battles is a strong factor for them winning ball games. This is the reason why they rank 11th in the NFL in points scored and only 21st in yards.
Another main reason that Tennessee is 6-0 is because they are a much more effective team offensively compared to last season. They are not an offensive powerhouse by any means, but they don’t have to be since they are only allowing 11 points per game. Kerry Collins has not been playing like Tom Brady but he has been more efficient than Vince Young. Last year, Young threw 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Collins has thrown 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in the 5 games he started. Now, these are not amazing stats by any means but his touchdown to interception ratio is so much better than Vince Young’s that it’s minimizing the Titans ability to turn over the ball. Another key to Tennessee’s success on offense has been its ability to run the ball. The addition of rookie running back Chris Johnson gives the Titans one the strongest rushing offenses in the NFL. Tennessee is averaging 154.5 rushing yards per game, ranking 4th in the league.
So now the question is are the Titans for real? That question will be answered during the playoffs. The outcome of their game against Indy on Monday night is quite important. If the Titans win, they will be 7-0 and Indianapolis will be 3-4. Tennessee will almost be guaranteed to win the AFC South and likely a bye in the first round of the playoffs. If they lose to the Colts, they will still be the leading candidate to win the division but they may give the Colts and the Jags the opportunity to catch up to them. Anyways, let’s assume the Titans win the AFC South. Are they a Superbowl contender? Well, assuming the Titans would get a bye for the first week of the playoffs, they would have to win 3 games in a row to win the Super Bowl. They would have to defeat much tougher opponents than they have faced thus far. Since becoming the Tennessee Titans, the franchise has a playoff record of 5-5 and still hasn’t won a Super Bowl.
The Titans definitely lack a significant amount of depth offensively to be considered a Super Bowl contender. The only outstanding facet of their offense is their running game. Neither Kerry Collins nor Vince Young are MVP caliber quarterbacks. Justin Gage is considered to be Tennessee’s number one receiver and definitely is not pro bowl caliber by any means. The backbone of Tennessee’s success is its ability to shutdown the opposition. The defensive line of Jevon Kearse, Tony Brown, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth is definitely the most intimidating group of the league. They have combined for 14 sacks already this season. Cornerbacks Courtland Finnegan and Michael Griffin each have 4 interceptions. I think that Tennessee’s defense is solid enough to make them a Super Bowl contender. After all, defense wins championships.
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