Raise your hand if you thought the Tennessee Titans would be playing meaningful football in December when the season began…
OK, I admit. My hand wasn’t raised, either. No one saw this coming.
But here they are.
After starting the season 1-3, the Titans have reeled off victories in five of their last eight games…averaging 25 points per game during that span.
At 6-6, Tennessee is right back in the thick of the AFC South title race after escaping Soldier Field with a 27-21 victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon.
The win, coupled with a second straight loss by the Houston Texans (6-5), brings the Titans to within a game of the division lead.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been on a tear over that stretch, accounting for multiple touchdowns for a franchise record eight consecutive weeks.
Wide receiver Rishard Matthews is a huge reason for Mariota’s recent success. His highlight-reel 29 yard td reception against the Bears gave him seven scores in his last eight games.
The run game, which is Tennessee’s calling card, was effective again at Soldier Field. The three-headed-monster attack of DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, and Marcus Mariota combined for 149 yards (5.0 yards per attempt) and a touchdown against the Bears.
The Titans now have a much-needed bye week, and can hopefully use the week off to get some key players (DeMarco Murray – toe, Jason McCourty – knee) healthy and ready for the stretch run.
For the last several years the Titans and December were an oxymoron. If they were used together in the same sentence, then there were other catch phrases usually accompanying them…like prospects, draft orders, and team needs.
But something cool happened to Titans fans yesterday…
When the national sports outlets were displaying their annual late-November playoff scenarios, Tennessee was mentioned in every one as a team that is “in the hunt”
There will be meaningful football at Nissan Stadium when the Titans return from their bye to face the defending World Champion Denver Broncos on December 11th….in a game with huge playoff implications for both teams.
Exciting times in Nashville.
*Cornerback Perrish Cox was released today after several highly publicized poor outings. Two weeks ago Cox was graded with the worst performance in the entire league against the Colts. And if not for a couple of dropped passes, Cox would have been responsible for giving up the game-winning touchdown to Chicago yesterday. He was beat by the Bears’ receivers on both plays. Rookie 5th round pick Leshaun Sims will likely see an increase in snaps, and the last pick in this year’s draft, cornerback Kalan Reed, has been promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
*Without qb Andrew Luck (concussion), the Colts also dropped a game to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night. The loss dropped Indianapolis to 5-6, and a half game behind the second place Titans in the division.
*With Sunday’s win, Tennessee has now won more games this year (6) than 2014 and 2015 combined (5).