The Titans (8-7) have now lost a third straight game, all three against NFC West division opponents, on Sunday at home against NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams (11-4), by a final score of 27-23. Now the Titans playoff scenario is as simple as it gets heading into this weekend’s regular season finale: Win and they’re in. So it’s all down to this: win Sunday at home against the Jaguars, and the Titans will be playoff bound, on the road the following weekend at either AFC South division champion Jacksonville (10-5) or at AFC West division champion Kansas City (9-6). (Records current at presstime)
“I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I am disappointed,” Titans tight end Delanie Walker said after the game. “To lose three games (in a row) like this. We keep saying we can get this W. Well, (we) better have a fight and come and be ready to go. We have our backs against the wall. We can only fight our way out.”
Sunday’s loss, which came on the heels of back-to-back losses at non-playoff bound Arizona (7-8) and San Francisco (5-10), helped the Jaguars clinch the AFC South. But the Titans, as a result of Buffalo’s (8-7) loss at New England (12-3) on Sunday, can still clinch a playoff spot with a win. It would improve the team’s record to 9-7, and the Titans would win playoff tiebreakers with the two other hopeful teams, Buffalo (8-7) and the LA Chargers (8-7). Baltimore (9-6) holds the fifth playoff spot and keeps it if it defeats the Bengals to go 10-6. The Titans would then be the sixth of six AFC playoff teams; AFC East Champion New England and AFC North Champion Pittsburgh (12-3) are the top two seeds and have a first round bye.
“From what I understand, all the scenarios, we have to win next week to be in,” Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said after the game. “We have to get to work.”
In the NFC, Philadelphia (13-2) , Minnesota (12-3) and the LA Rams are in as division champs, with either New Orleans (11-4) or Carolina (11-4) going in as NFC South champion after this weekend’s game. If Seattle wins against Arizona (7-8) and Carolina wins in Atlanta (9-6), the Seahawks (9-6) would go in as a WIld Card in the sixth NFC spot, joining New Orleans in the fifth NFC spot.
Due to their games’ playoff implications, the NFL has decided to ‘flex’ the kickoff times of three AFC games to late afternoon, while not starting any in the evening as had been their tradition. The NFL has made their alterations to the Week 17 schedule and the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Los Angeles Chargers will all be playing at 3:25 p.m. Central time on CBS. Two of the teams will end the day happy and two will start the new year off at home (not their home stadiums, just at home).
Buffalo, Baltimore, and Tennessee were all originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 12 Noon Central, but with playoff spots on the line, the NFL decided it would be best if all four teams were playing at the same time, necessitating the move. The NFL reserves the right to change the Week 17 schedule to better ensure competitiveness and this move looks to be for that reason.
Meanwhile, Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, left tackle Taylor Lewan and punter Brett Kern have all been selected to play in this year’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The Titans have seven other players as alternates: special teamer Brynden Trawick, tight end Delanie Walker, safety Kevin Byard, kick returner Adoree’ Jackson, right tackle Jack Conklin, quarterback Marcus Mariota and linebacker Brian Orakpo. This year’s Pro Bowl will be played on January 28 at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Hopefully, this will not be the only post-season action these Titans will see.