Every NFL team starts the first of September with a clean slate. A record of 0-0. Many have hope of playing in January and it is a time of optimism for the players and the fans. The teams that made the playoffs the previous season hope to take it a step further (or repeat, if a team won the Super Bowl), while the teams that missed the playoffs hope to make it to postseason play. As the fourth week of the season winds down tonight in Minnesota, The Sports Debates is looking at teams that are behind the proverbial eight ball and have lost a realistic chance at making the playoffs. Yes, we know we are only a quarter of the way through the regular season, but the most surprising team to have basically ruined their playoff chances this early is the Tennessee Titans.
Last season the Titans finished 13-3 in the regular season and won the AFC South… before eventually losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the playoffs. The regular season record will not be duplicated, and with Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville (the team gave up 27 first half points to the Jacksonville Jaguars?), the Titans are an embarrassing 0-4. Guess what other teams are also 0-4? Terrible teams like the St. Louis Rams, the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Heck, even the Oakland Raiders have one more win than the Titans! This is not what Jeff Fisher and Co. had in mind when the season started.
The offense has moved the ball fairly well. The offense is averaging close to 360-yards per game. Chris Johnson is having another solid year (and helping my fantasy team!). The Titans just are not getting the ball into the end zone. Averaging slightly less than 19 points a game to this point is good enough for 22nd in the league. That is not good enough for a team that had Super Bowl hopes coming into the season. It is also fair to question whether or not Kerry Collins is the man for the job at quarterback.
Where the team has really struggled is on defense. The Titans are giving up 282.2 yards per game passing, and an average of 27 points per game. How does a defense give up 323 yards to David Garrard? To me, that is a head scratcher. Does the defense really miss Albert Haynesworth that much? Does the defense really miss Jim Schwarz that much? Right now, it appears so!
And it is not going to get any easier for the Titans. One of the “perks” of winning a division is having a tough schedule the following the year. It is one of the many things the NFL does to create parity in the league. Look at the schedule and it is easy to understand the teams the Titans are playing in the next two week: the Indianapolis Colts (in an absolutely dreadful Sunday Night football game) and the New England Patriots. Ouch. I think 0-6 is a real possibility.
This is not what Titans fans and the city of Nashville had in mind. A record of 0-4 through the first four weeks was not even in the realm of possibility. With the Colts sitting on top of the division with a 4-0 record, it is going to be next to impossible to make the playoffs. There is no guarantee that 10 wins gets a team in the playoffs. And with the schedule strength shaking out like it is, I just do not see the Titans rebounding and playing playoff football this season.