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NFL Playoff Picture: Where the Titans stand after some much needed help in Week 14

Tennessee has a chance to regain control of their own destiny next week.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

The Titans playoff hopes remain alive as they head into their Week 15 game against the Giants thanks to their big win over the Jaguars on Thursday night and several key losses by some of their biggest competitors. Losses by the Ravens, Texans, Broncos, and Steelers all helped the Titans playoff odds in a big way. The current AFC South and AFC wildcard pictures are as follows:

AFC South

Texans (9-4 overall, 3-2 in AFCS)

Remaining Schedule: @NYJ, @PHI, vsJAX

Colts (7-6 overall, 3-2 in AFCS)

Remaining Schedule: vsDAL, vsNYG, @TEN

Titans (7-6 overall, 3-2 in AFCS)

Remaining Schedule: @NYG, vsWAS, vsIND

Yes, the division is still a longshot, but after Houston’s home loss against the Colts it’s at least back in play. If the Titans win out, they’ll own the tiebreaker against Texans. That means Tennessee would just need Houston to drop two of their final three. As we learned today, penciling in wins and losses based on schedule/opponents is a fool’s errand. That goes double for road games, which the Texans will be facing for the next two weeks. A road loss or two could make things suddenly very interesting again in the AFC South.

AFC 6 Seed

Ravens (7-6)

Remaining Schedule: vsTB, @LAC, vsCLE

Dolphins (7-6)

Remaining Schedule: @MIN, vsJAX, @BUF

Colts (7-6)

Remaining Schedule: vsDAL, vsNYG, @TEN

Titans (7-6)

Remaining Schedule: @NYG, vsWAS, vsIND

Broncos (6-7)

Remaining Schedule: vsCLE, @OAK, vsLAC

The other team that factors in here despite not currently being listed in the group is the Steelers. Pittsburgh currently leads the AFC North with a 7-5-1 record, but they’re just a half game ahead of Baltimore and could drop in to the wildcard race if they fall behind the Ravens. With a remaining schedule featuring a home matchup with the Patriots, a road trip to New Orleans, and then a home game against the Bengals, Pittsburgh has a real chance of falling out of the playoffs altogether.

The Titans would lose tiebreakers to the Ravens, Dolphins, and Broncos if they were to finish tied with any of those teams at 9-7 or 10-6. Whoever wins the Week 17 matchup between the Titans and Colts would hold the tiebreaker between those two teams. So the Titans still need a little help from the outside, but not much.

If the Titans can win out — a very tough task, but certainly not out of the question — then all they need is for either the Ravens or Steelers to lose one more and for the Dolphins to lose one more. That’s it. In fact, the Titans could officially control their own destiny by the end of next weekend if they beat the Giants, have the Dolphins lose to the Vikings and either the Steelers lose to the Patriots or Ravens lose to the Bucs. That’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

This weekend’s results even bring some glimmer of hope for a 9-7 Titans team to get into the playoffs. That scenario would require the following things to happen:

  1. Either BAL OR PIT lose two more.
  2. MIA loses two more.
  3. DEN loses one more.
  4. IND either loses two more OR loses to TEN.

That’s a pretty unlikely scenario but it’s more possible now than it seemed just 8 hours ago.

The Titans currently have a 27% chance of making the playoffs according to the NYT Playoff Simulator, up from 22% this morning. Their odds of getting in at 10-6 would be 95%. The odds of getting in at 9-7 would be 40% if that loss came against the Giants or Redskins, but just 10% if it comes against the Colts.

This was a great weekend of results for the Titans. Now they need to go get a win over a hot Giants team in their final road game of the regular season. Buckle up, things are about to get interesting.