Tennessee Titans Still in the Hunt for AFC South Title

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 26, 2013

Oct 20, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) takes the snap from center Brian Schwenke (62) during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at LP Field. The 49ers beat the Titans 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans have lost three straight games after starting the season 3-1, but they are still very much alive in the AFC South race. 

Seriously. 

And, in all likelihood, their 2013 fate could be determined over the next month of action. 

So buckle up, Titans fans. 

Things haven't been good for Tennessee in the month of October after an encouraging beginning to the season—a disappointing development, but one that's not totally a surprise after matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers

Here's a look at how the Titans fared against those three upper-echelon teams compared to the first four games of the season:

Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (87) heads to the locker room after an injury sustained against the Denver Broncos during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Still, there's light at the end of the tunnel for the 3-4 team that currently sits two games behind the Indianapolis Colts for the division lead. After a Week 8 bye, here is the Titans' schedule: 

Following the road contest with Andrew Luck and Co. in Week 13, Tennessee will travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos. But contests with the Arizona Cardinals, Jaguars and Houston Texans at home will end the season. 

To a certain degree, every NFL game is difficult, but the Titans have a pretty nonthreatening pair of games coming off the bye week against the Rams and Jaguars. They should be 5-4 when they'll host the Colts in Week 11. 

With wins over the San Francisco 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, no team has a more impressive collection of victories than Indianapolis. But things very well could be different in the future without Reggie Wayne, who tore his ACL in Week 7. 

This is how integral he's been to the Colts offense this season: 

Tennessee Titans Statistical Numbers
Yards Per GamePoints Per GameYards Allowed Per GamePoints Allowed Per Game
First Four Games312.7524.5313.2517.25
Last Three Games31015.66368.6625.66
Pro Football Reference

In essence, Indianapolis will have to replace 25 percent of its passing offense, something that wouldn't be easy for any team.

Quarterback Andrew Luck is the ultimate equalizer for the Colts, but his team will likely experience some growing pains without its most established and reliable wideout over the next month. 

Reggie Wayne's Importance To Indy
Targets% of Total TargetsCatches% of Total CatchesReceiving Yards% of Receiving Yards
5825.53827.550331.2
ESPN

Could the Titans be catching Indianapolis at a good time? 

Maybe. 

Additionally, if Jake Locker continues to improve, Tennessee should be competing for the AFC South crown in December. 

Locker completed 25 of his 41 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against the 49ers in his first game back from a hip injury he suffered in Week 4 against the New York Jets. He also ran three times for 29 yards. 

Here's a look at his seasonal stat line:

Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (87) heads to the locker room after an injury sustained against the Denver Broncos during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

No one really noticed the Titans when they started 3-1. At this point, after three consecutive losses, they've once again become an afterthought—which is somewhat odd, because the NFL is loaded with parity. But check back in a month, as they should be right in the thick of their divisional race.