Let’s take a look back at the first seven games of the Tennessee Titans’ season….
They scored just 16 points in their regular season opener at home. A loss.
They rebounded on the road in week 2 to notch their first win of the season.
They laid an egg in their lone visit to Houston’s NRG Stadium, and they barely squeaked out close victory over the winless Cleveland Browns.
Sound familiar Titans fans?
It should, because I am talking about the 2016 season.
As you can see, the first seven games of this season are eerily similar to their start a year ago. The big difference was their drought-ending win over the Indianapolis Colts a few weeks ago that brought their record to 4-3.
Tennessee was defeated by the Colts in week 7 last season, and finished 3-4 after seven games.
While poor play and injuries on offense make the 2016 season feel like a decade ago, I have some good news Titans fans.
If history continues to repeat itself then the Titans are in prime position to end their near decade-long playoff drought.
After a slow start to the 2016 season, the Titans went on a run…winning six of their remaining nine games.
That run included wins over Green Bay, Kansas City, and Houston. Three playoff teams from 2016. Not to mention a win over the defending champion Denver Broncos, who were battling for their own playoff spot when Tennessee defeated them late in the season.
Projecting forward, if the Titans can duplicate a 6-3 mark over their last nine games again then they will finish 10-6….which should be enough to secure a Wild Card spot if not the AFC South title.
One glaring difference of note. Tennessee’s remaining 2017 schedule isn’t nearly as daunting as last year’s.
Five of Tennessee’s nine remaining opponents currently have losing records, with a combined record of 19-31.
Pittsburgh (6-2), Jacksonville (4-3), and the Los Angeles Rams (5-2) are the only teams remaining with winning records currently.
The Titans also have five home games remaining, where they are 6-1 over their last seven at Nissan Stadium.
One of the keys to Tennessee’s furious 2016 finish was their overall health. All of the key contributors were present and accounted for to close the season.
Until week 16 in Jacksonville of course, but I digress.
The Titans will be as healthy as they have been all season coming out of this year’s bye. Head coach Mike Mularkey deemed previously hobbled quarterback Marcus Mariota 100% healthy from the hamstring injury suffered in Houston.
He will play with no restrictions going forward. Great news for an offense that was predictable without Mariota’s threat to run.
Rookie wide receiver Corey Davis is also scheduled to return after missing the better part of six games with his own hamstring injury.
On defense, starting safety Johnathan Cyprien’s hamstring has healed to the point that he may be available Sunday as well after missing the last six games.
Running back DeMarco Murray surely benefited from the time off as he was able to rest and heal a multitude of bumps and bruises.
And for the cherry on top, tight end Delanie Walker’s injury in Cleveland is not as bad as first thought, making his availability for Sunday’s game a real possibility.
With Mariota finally healthy, and his full complement of weapons on the way, a 6-3 mark over the last nine games is not too much to ask from a roster this talented. Especially with December opponents likely jockeying for a better draft position.
It’s ironic to think that a history-repeating record to close the season could undo a historic playoff drought in Tennessee.