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It Would Be Crazy If The Titans Win The AFC South

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The Titans will have to catch up to the Texans and fend off the Colts to make their playoff chances possible. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.
The Titans will have to catch up to the Texans and fend off the Colts to make their playoff chances possible. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.

There are probably only a handful of people that are willing to bet on the Tennessee Titans this season. Rightfully so, because they are in an AFC South division with a top heavy Houston Texans squad and, perhaps, the best young team in the league in the Indianapolis Colts. 

The Titans are, just maybe, a smidge better than the Jacksonville Jaguars, in the eyes of many – and that’s on a good day.

So don’t laugh as we beg the question – Can the Tennessee Titans be a dark horse in the AFC South?

THE COMPETITION

The big bad Houston Texans are the class of the AFC South, no doubt. They’ve won two straight division titles, and are being penciled in for a third-straight as I’m writing this. 

Houston is the total package. They have a great defense (ranked fourth overall last season) and an explosive offense (ranked second last season), with a solid (I say that lightly) coaching staff. I don’t think anyone is actually raving about Gary Kubiak.  Nevertheless, it works.

But it’s not only the Texans that the Titans have to overcome in the South; the Colts are the heirs, eagerly awaiting to take the throne.

Last season, the Colts came out as a bit of a surprise and made the playoffs. It wasn’t shocking to see how good Andrew Luck was, we already knew he was the real deal, what was shocking was how quickly that team came together.

Indy will be better this season, Luck will be out of this world. But in no way are they world-beaters. 

Then, there’s the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. There’s really nothing other to say about them then that they’re bad. Real bad.

THE CHALLENGE

Plenty of times, when trying to determine if a certain team can take it to the next level or be the surprise story of the season, we often look at the teams around them rather than the team itself. That’s a mistake. Yes, the competition has to be taken into account, but what really is going to determine the Titans fortunes is, well, the Titans.

Just because the Texans and Colts are going to be good, that doesn’t mean the Titans have to be bad. In the NFL, it doesn’t have to work that way.  So, in essence, the biggest struggle for the Tennessee Titans this season is, the Tennessee Titans. 

Specifically, consistency and the ability to improve as the season progresses will be the two key components in the Titans ability to achieve any kind of success this season. 

The best teams always get better as the season goes on, with the roster assembled as-is, the Titans have that ability. They have some pretty young players at the skilled positions; they should get better with every passing snap.

Key word: should.

THE SKINNY

This season is going to fall on the shoulders of Jake Locker – fair or not. 10 touchdowns to 11 interceptions isn’t going to cut it. Not even close. I know he only played in 11 games last season, but averaging one touchdown per game is not good. Not in this day and age’s NFL.

In the AFC last season, every quarterback in the playoffs threw for at least 25 touchdowns in the regular season. Not saying Locker will have to throw for 25 touchdowns this season, but if the Titans want to be any kind of surprise in the AFC South or the AFC in general, he will have to get pretty close to that.

Although, with the run-first Titans offensive philosophy, it will be more than reasonable to say that Locker only needs about 15-20 passing touchdowns this season. If he gets there, he and the Titans should be in good shape.

Of course, that’s assuming that Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene do their thing in the running game. Together, they need to get pretty close to 2,500 yards. Last season, the Washington Redskins (the NFL’s best rushing team) tallied 2,700-plus yards on the ground. The Titans should aim for that.

The defense…well, that just needs to get better, like now.

THE VERDICT

It’s bold, very bold, to sit here and talk about how the Titans will earn a playoff spot or even be in contention for a playoff spot this season. If that would be the case, labeling them as a dark horse would be an understatement.

For them to somehow have the ability to go toe-to-toe with the Texans and Colts in the standings, well that would be nothing short of a miracle. A music city miracle, perhaps?

Can they do it? Sure, anything can happen in the NFL. The Titans have some very nice pieces – if they somehow end up developing. The question remains – just like the one hovering over Locker – will they ever do it.

The good thing is that it doesn’t matter what we think. At the end of the day, they have 17 weeks to prove us wrong.

Go ahead, Tennessee, prove us wrong.