There was never a doubt.
I knew the Titans were going to win all along. I totally didn’t pick the Raiders to win in last week’s primer.
*quickly deletes last week’s primer from internet existence*
Despite my lack of faith last week, I have talked about how this team seems different than most Titans teams before them.
In seasons past, the Titans have found ways to lose important games late in the season when a playoff birth is on the line. In 2011, a 7-6 Titans team lost to the winless Colts. The 2016 Titans lost to the 2-12 Jaguars by three touchdowns to ruin any hopes of a run to the playoffs.
Last week, I just wasn’t ready to put those losses out of my mind and pick this team to go against the rest of Titans’ history and make a legitimate run to the playoffs.
I’m ready now.
During this seven-game stretch, the Titans have won the games they were “supposed” to win. Past Titans teams have pulled upsets and beaten teams they weren’t supposed to beat (the Saints in 2015, Green Bay in 2016, the Chiefs every time they’ve played them in recent history), but those Titans teams have followed up those games with disappointing stretches. This year’s team has avoided any let-down games, and in fact have gotten better each week.
And the driving force behind this historic offensive run? Ryan Tannehill. Let’s talk about him, shall we?
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (-3)
Game Time: Noon CST
Location: Nashville, TN (Nissan Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson
Radio: Titans Radio, 104-5 The Zone
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Jonathan Hutton, Rhett Bryan
Over/ Under: 51.5
Stat Corner with Matt:
I’ve highlighted other players over the last few weeks in Stat Corner because I wanted some variety in the stats I’m writing about. But Tannehill keeps putting up more and more historic numbers. I get it Ryan, you want me to write about you. Well here you go. Hope you’re happy.
Now, I can’t get into all of the offensive numbers that I want to here, so I’ll just bullet-point some of the more impressive stats this offense has put up since Tannehill took over.
-Tannehill leads the league in Net Yards per Dropback (9.66) over Lamar Jackson (9.38) and Matthew Stafford (8.44)
-The Titans scored 42 points on Sunday, marking the 4th consecutive game they exceeded 30 points. It’s the first time that’s happened since the 2003 season.
-Ryan Tannehill leads the NFL in the following stats: yards/attempt (9.8), yards/completion (13.4), and QB rating (118.5). He’s also a close second in completion percentage (73.4) behind Drew Brees (73.6).
-The Titans now have the 9th-highest offensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. Every team above them is playoff bound and has a prolific offense.
-Since Tannehill took over in Week 7, the Titans are No. 1 in Explosive Run Rate (17 percent), No. 2 in Explosive Pass Rate (15 percent), and No. 1 in Overall Explosive Play Rate (16 percent). (According to Sharp Football Statistics)
-WR AJ Brown (779) is trailing only DK Metcalf (783) of the Seahawks in receiving yards among rookies.
-Since Week 7, the Titans’ playoff percentages went from 8 percent before the Chargers game, to 65 percent before the Texans game.
All of these stats tell me one thing: Ryan Tannehill is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. If it wasn’t for some guy up in Baltimore, I could comfortably say Tannehill is playing like THE best quarterback in the NFL, and there hasn’t been any signs of slowing down. I’ve seen some people write this week about the inevitable regression for Tannehill back to
3 Things to Watch:
–Injury Bug 2.0: I wrote last week how the Titans’ injury issues in the secondary could spell trouble for them…and then they lost Kenny Vacarro to a concussion. Luckily for them, the Raiders receivers don’t instill much fear into opposing secondaries. The Texans’ receivers, however, are about as frightful as they come. Adoree Jackson has been ruled out, and Vaccaro and LeShaun Sims are questionable. If Sims is unable to go, Logan Ryan and Tye Smith will be the ones tasked to contain Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins. Good luck boys.
–Jonnu Smith Game?: The Titans tight end hasn’t had much volume since Tannehill took over, but Smith has made big plays when called upon. This Texans defense isn’t what it used to be, especially with JJ Watt missing, and they’ve allowed some big games to tight ends recently. Three out of their last four games, a tight end has been the leading receiver for the opposing team (Noah Fant, Eric Ebron, Mark Andrews). Each of these guys are the pass-catching, athletic type of tight end, a mold that Smith also falls into. I’m not expecting his catches to exceed five or six, but look for at least one big play to Smith on Sunday.
-AJ Brown Rookie Milestone: AJ Brown has emerged as the Titans No. 1 receiver over the last few games, and his numbers are reaching lofty rookie records. Brown currently ranks No. 4 in Titans’ franchise history among rookies in receiving yards (779). He only needs 44 more yards to pass Chris Sanders for third all time.
My Prediction: Titans 30 Texans 21
I’ve very rarely been able to make a prediction that my heart and my head agrees with, but here we are. This team has proven that under Ryan Tannehill, you’re going to have to win a shootout. Now, the Texans are absolutely capable of winning that sort of game, especially with the Titans’ secondary being in the shape that it’s in. But I’m done doubting Tanne-thrill.