NASHVILLE — It feels like an eternity since the Tennessee Titans (6-3) held the top spot in the AFC. At 5-0 in Week 7 and preparing to host the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, the case was being made for Mike Vrabel as Coach of the Year and Tennessee among the NFL’s elite.

At the conclusion of Week 10’s conference slate, the Titans aren’t even in the picture.

Losing three of their last four games to conference opponents hurt Tennessee. Collapsing on Thursday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) 34-17 deflated hopes as much as any defeat I have covered in four years on the beat. Anyone who has watched the Titans in 2020 knew that this was a flawed football team. To drop from the top to the 9th seed in the matter of a month, though, could not have been predicted.

The league expanded its postseason this year to add an additional wild card team to each conference for a total of fourteen franchises. For better or worse, Tennessee’s playoff future remains in their own hands.

The top heavy AFC makes it a tough hill to climb.

AFC Playoff Picture

Nov 15, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0): 3-0 in the AFC North. 6-0 in conference play. Week 7 head-to-head advantage over the Titans.

No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (8-1): 2-1 in the AFC West. 7-1 in conference play.

No. 3 Buffalo Bills (7-3): 4-0 in the AFC East. 5-2 in conference play. Titans own Week 5 head-to-head advantage.

No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (6-3): 1-1 in the AFC South. 3-3 in conference play. Week 10 head-to-head advantage over the Titans.

No. 5 Oakland Raiders (6-3): 3-0 in the AFC West. 4-2 in conference play. Own tiebreaker over the Titans based on win percentage in conference games.

No. 6 Miami Dolphins (6-3): 1-2 in the AFC East. 3-2 in conference play. Own tiebreaker over the Titans based on win percentage in conference games.

No. 7 Baltimore Ravens (6-3): 2-1 in the AFC North. 4-3 in conference play. Own tiebreaker over the Titans based on win percentage in common games (Bengals & Colts). Week 11 match-up hosting the Titans.

In The Hunt

Nov 15, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) signals at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Cleveland Browns (6-3): 2-2 in the AFC North. 4-3 in conference play. Own tiebreaker over the Titans with win percentage in common games (Bengals & Colts). Week 13 match-up in Tennessee.

No. 9 Tennessee Titans (6-3): 2-1 in the AFC South. 4-3 in conference play.

Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

 


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