Before the season started, I thought the Tennessee Titans would be a fringe wild card team.
I definitely didn’t think they’d compete for the AFC South division title.
But after three weeks of NFL action, and two surprising wins by the Titans, I’m convinced Tennessee could walk away from the 2018 season as a division winner.
The Titans have dealt with a lot of adversity early this season. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is dealing with a nerve issue in his throwing arm. Left tackle Taylor Lewan was forced to miss a game after a questionable hit left him with a concussion. And Tennessee’s leading receiver from a year ago, tight end Delanie Walker, was placed on injured reserve after dislocating his ankle.
Despite the hardships the Titans have faced, they’ve been able to win two key games — including Sunday’s matchup in Jacksonville against the Jaguars.
The Jaguars looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender after making easy work of the New England Patriots last week. I don’t think anyone would’ve looked down on Vrabel and the Titans had they lost to Jacksonville.
Especially since Mariota didn’t even start the game.
Mariota was forced into action when backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
The 9-6 win wasn’t a pretty one for the Titans, but I think it showed their grittiness. They’re willing to play whatever style of football it takes to get a win. That’s the Mike Vrabel effect already in place.
As of right now, it looks like the AFC South division race will come down to the Jaguars and the Titans. The Texans are in a 0-3 hole and the Colts probably aren’t going far. Andrew Luck’s diminished arm strength has been very apparent this season, as he’s dinked and dunked his way through three games so far.
Obviously, the Titans’ having a shot at winning the AFC South is predicated on the health of Mariota. Tennessee can’t continue this musical chair routine at quarterback and expect the team to find a way to win. I know it hasn’t been by choice, but Mariota will have to consistently stay under center if the Titans are going to finish with more wins than the Jaguars.
Either way, I feel a lot different about the Titans than I did a couple of weeks ago after they lost to the Miami Dolphins (Miami, by the way, is off to a 3-0 start).
I think it’s safe to say the Titans are for real this season.
Featured image via Oregon Live