For the first time in years the Tennessee Titans are listed as favorites to defeat their opponent in consecutive weeks. Last week the Titans were a seven point favorite to beat the winless Cleveland Browns, which is understandable.
This week, however, Tennessee finds themselves in the rare position of a three-point favorite over their division rival arch nemesis…the Indianapolis Colts.
A Colts team that’s won nine in a row in the series. A Colts team with a quarterback in Andrew Luck that is 7-0 against the boys in two-tone Titan blue.
An overwhelming majority of NFL prognosticators have been picking the Titans to win this game all week, and for a team that has spent the last several years out of the national spotlight, it’s hard to imagine Tennessee’s players not relishing in their newfound popularity.
As tempting as it may be, it’s best that the Titans stay away from their own press clippings this week.
Yes, Tennessee is now playing with house money after matching their 2015 win total (3) in just six games this season. At the rate they are going, they should more than double that total in 2016.
Which was the goal heading into the season.
But as we discussed on Wednesday, the Titans were in a similar situation last season against a winless Colts team and failed to get the job done.
With their season on the line again, you can count on a similar effort from Indianapolis this Sunday.
Tennessee cannot afford to let their foot off the pedal, or worse yet, take this Colts team lightly…no matter how many players they have dinged up and unavailable for the game.
In his latest meeting with the media, head coach Mike Mularkey stated that he hasn’t even mentioned the team’s upcoming nationally televised Thursday night game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He reiterated that his sole focus is on Indianapolis, and that’s a good thing.
Hopefully it’s not just coach speak. Hopefully his team is receiving the message, because a win on Sunday carries huge implications going forward.
The Titans would move to 4-3, and could conceivably find themselves tied atop the division if the Broncos take care of the visiting Texans on Monday night.
A win would give the Titans their first three-game win streak in years, as well as their first home win streak in quite some time.
A win would undoubtedly turn Nissan Stadium into a wave of Titan-blue supporters for their lone home appearance on national television next Thursday.
A win would not only end the Colts’ stranglehold over them, but it would also send them to 2-5…and put their hopes for a division title in serous jeopardy…while substantially increasing their own.
And a win would keep the Titans among the league’s relevant storylines well into November…something that even the most optimistic supporter wouldn’t have predicted.
All with a win Sunday.
The Titans have flown under the radar this season, and have the quietest 3-3 record in the league.
So far that has worked for them.
But this week marks the first time in a long time that Tennessee is being patted on the back by people outside of Nashville, and it’s hard to predict how a team that has no recent culture of winning handles the sudden pressure of expectation.
We’ll have our answer by late Sunday afternoon.