In The Division
Three weeks ago the Titans and the Colts were tied atop the division at 3-1. The Titans lost their signal caller while playing two tough opponents, and still lost to a third even with Jake Locker back in the lineup. Their perennial adversary went 2-1 in that same stretch and now have a comfortable lead in the division standings.
What makes matters worse is that the Colts recently had a signature win at home over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos. While the Titans have made definitive strides from last year, they still struggle against good teams, something that will have to change if they want to take the next step.
Meanwhile, the Texans have imploded and lost the last three games as well. Matt Schaub looks to have given way to the previous third string hometown hero Case Keenum as the Texans look to salvage something to play for.
Many think the Titans schedule gets easier coming out of the bye week, but so does the Colts. Houston, St. Louis, Tennessee, Arizona, and then Tennessee again doesn't exactly look like murderers row at the moment. The Titans still have a chance to go on a run, but there's no reason to expect the Colts to slow down either.
The Patriots continue to sit atop the division, but were recently knocked off their pedestal momentarily by the upstart NY Jets. Every single team in this division has a better or equal record to the Titans at the moment which does not bode well.
The Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins this weekend and Titans fans should root for a Patriot win. I don't expect the Bills to be able to hold things together with Thad Lewis as their quarterback, and they have the Saints and Chiefs coming up in their next two games. The Jets are sporadic, and have the Bengals and the Saints in their upcoming games which will be tough match ups. Miami could still pose the biggest threat to a wild card birth for the Titans down the stretch.
It seems as though the Bengals are taking control of the division even though the Ravens are making a push and the Steelers have started winning games as well.
The Titans badly need someone to take control of this division and leave the others behind. A four game win streak by the Bengals could do the Titans play off hopes well as they face the Dolphins, Jets, Ravens and Browns in succession. Each of these teams pose a serious threat to the 6th wild card seed currently available. These games are pivotal in determining not only the outcome of the North, but of the East as well.
I can't fathom the Browns truly being a threat and the Steelers are hopefully off to too bad a start to worry about.
The Chargers win is looking better and better as the weeks go on. If things continue the way they are going, both wild cards may come out of the West this year for the AFC.
The Chiefs are the lone remaining undefeated team and have almost clinched a playoff spot. If they only won 4 out of their next 9, they would still own a 11-5 record. The Broncos, despite their loss to the Colts last week, still look like one of the most dominant teams in the league.
Thankfully for Titan fans, the Chargers have a difficult stretch of games in front of them. Washington, Denver, Miami and Kansas City is their next slate after the bye. Losses throughout this stretch would help the Titans immensely, except for maybe the Miami game. We'll see in a couple weeks who to root for in that one.
As things stand right now, the Titans have the Jets, Broncos, and Chargers in front of them for wild card contention. They sit with the same win total as the Bills, Ravens, Dolphins and Browns.
The Titans need to separate themselves, to say the least, over the next couple of weeks as they take on the Rams and the Jaguars. Their fate is still in their hands as they have the Colts twice in their future. If the Titans can't win the next two games and distance themselves from the pack, then they won't, and shouldn't, have a shot at the playoffs in 2013.