With just four games remaining, the Tennessee Titans find themselves in a hotly contested race for the AFC South division crown. Currently, the Titans and the Colts have identical 8-4 records with the Titans holding the tiebreaker based on divisional win percentage. In the first of two meetings in November, the Colts bested the Titans 34-17 in Tennessee. The Titans returned the favor in Indianapolis two weeks ago with a 45-26 win to split the season series. However, over the course of the past seven weeks, the two teams are trending in opposite directions.
The Colts have gone 5-2 over the last seven while the Titans are just 3-4 which includes a 41-35 loss to the Cleveland Browns this past Sunday. They have been a frustration for fans and bettors alike as local fans try to take advantage of the fact that legal sports betting launched in Tennessee last month. If you live in Tennessee, read up on the details before making a wager because restrictions do apply in this scenario so it can be a little complicated if you go in blank. Let’s circle back to the Titans. What is especially frustrating is the potential this team has in a wide-open AFC following a near Super Bowl appearance with most of their key contributors returning.
One of the biggest differences from a year ago, when the Titans made a run to the AFC Championship game, is their defense. A year ago, the Titans gave up just 20.2 points per game, and through 12 games in 2020, it is a full touchdown (and XP) more at 27.2. In the last seven, the Titans defense is just under 30 at 28.5 PPG. In contrast, the Colts give up just 23 points a game.
In the final four weeks, each team has games against the bottom half of the AFC South. Both teams, the Texans and Jaguars, are well out of the AFC playoff picture at a combined 5-19 on the year. The Colts remaining two games come against the Steelers (11-1) and Raiders (7-5) with Tennesse facing off against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (9-3) as well as the Lions (5-7). The offense, for the most part, has been similar to the unit we saw a year ago as it is run through Derrick Henry with efficient-to-elite quarterback play from Ryan Tannehill. Derrick Henry is once again leading the league in rushing yards with 1,317 on the year with Tannehill tossing 26 touchdowns to just six interceptions on the season.
The signing of Jadeveon Clowney didn’t quite help the Titans’ defense as intended. Before being lost for the year due to injury, Clowney had zero sacks, one forced fumble, and just 19 combined tackles in eight games. The entire Titans team has just 14 sacks on the season which is 31st in the league. Only the Bengals have fewer sacks. In addition, the Titans are the worst third-down defense in the league as they allow their opponents to convert 53.7 percent of the time.
Not only do the Titans need to fend off the surging Colts within their division but they have to figure out their own defensive issues if they hope to go one step further this postseason.