The Tennessee Titans missed the playoffs by a mere game last season, and they have their AFC South rivals to thank for it.
After defeating five playoff teams in 2016, the Titans were unable to end their own playoff drought because of a 2-4 record in what many people tabbed as the worst division in the NFL.
With their best roster in nearly a decade, the Titans came into this season knowing that this year’s playoff hopes would once again come down to knocking off teams that have routinely had their number the last several years.
The Titans also came into this season with payback on their mind, and their AFC South revenge tour started in Jacksonville, Florida.
The lowly Jaguars, with nothing to play for, gave Tennessee a huge lump of coal last Christmas Eve.
The heavily favored Titans were blown out by Jacksonville in week 16 of last season in a game where they not only eliminated Tennessee from playoff contention, but also knocked Marcus Mariota out for the season with a fractured fibula.
In week 2 of this season the Titans returned to the scene of the crime and thoroughly dominated the Jaguars in one of their most complete games of the season. The 37-16 beat down not only fueled the Titans’ early success, but as it stands now, the victory is the current tie breaker between the two 7-4 teams.
The Indianapolis Colts struggled last season, but were still able to sweep a Titans team that had the better overall roster. The sweep extended their win streak to eleven straight games over Tennessee.
This year the Titans took the broom away and did their own sweeping.
Not only did Tennessee end the losing streak, but in doing so they also notched their first victory in Lucas Oil Stadium while sweeping the season series over Indianapolis for the first time since 2002.
Next year it will be the Colts that are on the wrong side of the losing streak.
This Sunday the Titans’ AFC South revenge tour stops in Nashville for a rematch with the Houston Texans.
The reigning division champions gave the Titans their most lopsided defeat of the Marcus Mariota era…manhandling Tennessee 57-14 two months ago.
The Texans dominated the Titans in all three phases of the game, and seemed quite content with piling on the points in the second half.
A professional no-no…but I digress.
Yes, the playoff implications tied to this game makes it important on its on merit. But you are kidding yourself if you think that avenging a humiliating loss is not on the mind of every player wearing two-tone Titan blue.
A victory would put the Titans at eight wins with four games left to play. They would maintain their lead in the AFC South while strengthening their chances for a Wild Card spot.
At the same time, Tennessee had two months to stew over the meltdown in H-Town earlier this season. Finishing a successful revenge tour would be more than just a consolation prize.