NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans are one of a kind. And not in a good way.
As the 2021 NFL season entered its fifth week, the Titans were one of 14 teams that either led their respective divisions squarely or were tied for first place. And they were the only of the 14 who didn’t win at least three games.
The 27-24 overtime loss to the New York Jets last Sunday sent Tennessee down to 2-2. In two divisions, NFC West and NFC North, it would only be a fairly good third place while in two others, AFC North and AFC West, it would come last.
The Titans, however, are in the AFC South. Their division rivals include Jacksonville, one of the league’s two remaining winless teams (Detroit is the other) and a franchise in turmoil after its head coach’s irresponsible and off-court actions were caught on cell phone. and created – in his own words. – a distraction. Another team is Houston, who has a win (against Jacksonville) and a disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback won’t play because he wants to be traded. The Texans have just lost 40-0 in Week 4.
Tennessee are the team to beat due to a head-to-head victory in a Week 3 game with Indianapolis, a team that ultimately claimed their first victory last Sunday.
“We all have high expectations and high standards,” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel. “We are .500, we are 2-2. We played well sometimes, and sometimes we played badly. We don’t really look around, I think we can afford that luxury of saying, “Well we’ve got one more win than three other teams. “
Last season, the Titans started 5-0 and eventually won the division with a game against the Indianapolis Colts, who won three of their top five.
It’s possible that Vrabel’s side will again have a two-game lead after their first five, even if they only win three of the top five. Tennessee is a 4-1 / 2-point road favorite on Sunday against Jacksonville, according to IF Sports betting. Meanwhile, Houston is an 8-point home underdog against New England (1-3), and Indianapolis is a 7-point road underdog on Monday night against Baltimore (3-1).
“No one wants to lose games in the NFL,” safety Kevin Byard said this week. “We left one last week. But today is a new day, and it’s a new week. We have to go out there and play our best football to get a division victory because we all know how important it is to win our division.
A year ago, the NFL expanded the playoffs to include seven teams from each conference. This year, the regular season has grown to 17 games.
What remains unchanged is that the best way to get into the playoffs is to win the division. While the rest of the AFC South watch Tennessee, there are seven teams in the conference that have three wins.
The Titans have a minus-16 points differential with 95 scored and 111 allowed, which is the worst among the first-place teams and makes it one of the two (Green Bay at minus-4 is the other) to to have allowed more points than that scored.
That’s another unappealing statistic, but it doesn’t change the fact that the rest of the division is watching them. That, in itself, makes him a legitimate candidate for the playoffs.
According to analytical analysis from NFL.com, the week started with a 60.9 percent chance for the Titans to advance to the playoffs, second among seven .500 teams. PlayoffStatus.com sees a probability of 57% they’re in the playoffs and FootballOutsiders sees a 50.5% chance they play beyond the regular season.
Yet an analysis of the NFL Football Operations Department found that the Titans probably need to win more than lose the rest of the way. According to its study, a team that finishes 9-8 this season (the first with 17 games) has a 50% chance of qualifying for the playoffs, while a team that finishes 8-9 has only 11. % chance. Win 10 games and the odds increase dramatically to 91%.
“I think it’s just about focusing on the things we need to focus on and continuing to improve as the week goes on in Jacksonville on Sunday,” said running back Derrick. Henry. “It’s a division game, which is always a big game for us. Just play our style of football and go out there and try to win the game. “
Something they’ve done as often as they’ve lost so far.