Now that the Tennessee Titans are officially eliminated from playoff contention, the question among fans and local media is how to approach Sunday’s regular season finale against the Houston Texans.
Should the Titans go all out and play their healthy starters for the win? Or should they disguise their quest for a better draft slot by resting their key players, which in essence, would all but guarantee a loss?
Good news Titans fans….Tennessee wins in both scenarios.
Head coach Mike Mularkey and players alike want no part of any “draft slot” talk, and for good reason.
Remember…the goal heading into the season was to lay the foundation for a division title and playoff run in 2017…not this year. But to everyone’s surprise things came together a year ahead of schedule, evidenced by the pain Titans fans felt when their playoff hopes sailed wide right in Houston on Christmas Eve.
With that being said, finishing the season with their first winning record in five years is still a huge accomplishment for Tennessee…and coach Mularkey.
Also, let’s not overlook the huge elephant in the Titans’ locker room…their poor performance inside the division again this season.
Tennessee’s 1-4 record in the AFC South is the sole reason for not making the playoffs this year, and their recent failures against the division rival Texans and Indianapolis Colts hang over the franchise like never-ending storm cloud.
Beating Houston on Sunday kills three birds with one stone. Tennessee will end the season on a good note, secure their winning record, and end a frustrating losing streak all in one afternoon.
If, however, the Titans lose Sunday then it’s still a win for the franchise moving forward. The difference between 8-8 and 9-7 could be four of five draft slots.
A better draft slot is good for all of the obvious reasons, but aside from that, Tennessee could move into a more favorable spot to trade down from if the opportunity arises.
And as we all know, general manager Jon Robinson is never gun-shy when it comes to wheeling and dealing.
The Titans are one of the feel good surprise stories of the 2016 season by all accounts, and media outlets around the country are already projecting Tennessee to enter next season as a serious playoff contender.
Yes, missing the playoffs this year after coming so close will sting…and probably sting for a while, but a win-win scenario to finish the season is a nice consolation prize for a team that was picked to be a cellar-dweller once again this season.