The Tennessee Titans were able to come away with a last-minute victory against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The win earns Tennessee a tie for the sixth-and-final AFC playoff spot at the moment; however, the Titans should have bigger aspirations than simply earning a wild-card playoff berth.
Due to their resurgent offense, the Titans were finally able to bring home a win after two straight losses by a combined total of five points. Tennessee has plenty of momentum on its side—enough to make a huge, late-season run.
On the flip side, the Indianapolis Colts are now reeling after dropping to 7-4 on the heels of a 40-11 bludgeoning at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals. The Colts' stranglehold on the division seems to be slowly slipping away.
Colts have been outscored 72-9 in 1st half of games over the last 3 weeks— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 24, 2013
Looking ahead to next week, the Titans have a very crucial game, which could possibly have a hand in deciding the outcome of the AFC South, against the Colts.
The Titans are facing the Colts at a very opportune time.
Tennessee has seen its offense begin to flourish—even with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Fitzpatrick's success is most certainly due to a better supporting cast. The decision to cut down the playing time of wide receiver Kenny Britt has turned out to be a catalyst for this offense and has allowed better options at the position to flourish going forward.
FINAL: Titans 23 - Raiders 19 -Titans move into 6 seed in AFC Playoff Race -Ryan Fitzpatrick 320 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT pic.twitter.com/eFRfZTdPx7— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 25, 2013
Rookie wide receiver Justin Hunter stepped up and delivered a breakout performance after moving up the depth chart. Hunter led the team with six receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. His emergence was helped by second-year wide receiver Kendall Wright. Wright recorded six receptions for 103 yards and a score.
This was the first time this season that either receiver eclipsed the century mark.
Along with Delanie Walker at tight end and Nate Washington filling out the wide receiver corps, this is now the most dangerous passing attack that Tennessee has been able to produce this season.
One huge benefactor of a stellar aerial attack is creating room for the running game.
Chris Johnson rushed for 73 yards on 20 carries against Oakland—just a 3.7 average—but he is always a threat to break a huge run any time the ball finds his hands. Johnson will be given better opportunities to find success going forward, now that this offense is firing on all cylinders.
Chris Johnson has had 600+ rush & 200+ receiving yds every season since 2008, the 6-year streak is tied for longest active one in the #NFL— STATS (@STATS_NFL) November 24, 2013
On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans can continue to rely on their stellar secondary to get the job done. Tennessee is currently ranked seventh in the league in pass yards allowed per game. When taking Andrew Luck's recent struggles into account—he came away with passer ratings of just 65.3 and 60.1 in two of his last three games—the Titans will be able to force Luck's hand in next week's contest.
A victory next week against Indianapolis could completely turn the tide of the division. If the Titans can continue to ride their explosive offense to victories, an AFC South title is not out of the question.
Looking at Tennessee's upcoming schedule, there could be more wins in line for this team.
If the Titans can win two of their next three games, they will be in a fantastic position to climb to the top of the AFC South. Their final two games of the season are against two divisional opponents who have only been able to muster two wins each this season.
The Colts, however, have a rougher road remaining.
After looking over their schedule, it is not impossible to see a situation in which Indianapolis drops three of their last five games.
Which team will win the AFC South in 2013?
A couple weeks ago, it seemed as though the AFC South had been virtually locked up. It appeared as though the Colts would win the division, and the rest of the AFC South would miss the playoffs all together.
The Titans resurgent offense, along with the collapse of Luck and the Colts, puts a different spin on this playoff race, certainly giving the Titans a reasonable chance to make an improbable comeback.
Hang on to your hats—the Tennessee Titans aren't done just yet.