Glimmer Of Hope: Three Reasons Tennessee Can Still Make the NFL Playoffs

Dave StanleyCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 27: Jevon Kearse #90 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after he recovered a fumble against the New York Jets during the game on September 27, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Titans were able to taste victory Sunday after a hard-fought battle with an AFC rival.  

Trouble is, they were the wrong Titans.

The New York Jets—in their 1960 New York Titans throwback uniforms—defeated Tennessee 24-17 in what could potentially be a back-breaking loss for Tennessee, dropping them to 0-3.  

Since 1990, when the NFL went to its current 12 team playoff format, only three teams to start the season 0-3 made the playoffs.  Just one, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, went on to win a postseason game (they later lost in the divisional round).  

And this year, with talented teams like Tennessee, Carolina, and Miami all in the same winless hole, that statistic has been thrown around a lot. 

While die hard fans near and far are no doubt rationalizing their way down a laundry list of excuses as to why their respective teams have a shot, here is a look at three reasons there are silver linings for the Titans, and how they can possibly lead to sunshine.

Offensive Firepower

Not since those halcyon run n' shoot days with Warren Moon, Ernest Givins and Haywood Jeffires has this franchise used "offense" and "firepower" in the same sentence.

All across the board, the Titans are better than they were last year in this category. There may be a few exceptions where things have remained the same, yes, but nothing is glaringly worse, either.

Omit a few dropped balls here and there, and this team has no reason to not be in business.  Unfortunately, its prowess has thus far been on display only in shootouts instead of blowouts.  

But barring injuryor, God forbid, rolling overthis unit should keep producing all year long.  It's merely up to the defense and suddenly wobbly special teams to follow suit.  

"Untapped Talent"

Much has been made of the uncharacteristically maligned Tennessee defense, but truth be told, its biggest lost this year was by seven points.  

Granted, the offense had something to do with that, scoring frequently to keep the team in the game.

But the fact remains that these are essentially the same players that graced the playoffs and the Pro Bowl last season. If the front four lives up to their potential and can successfully apply pressure to the quarterback, then things will improve.  

Perhaps more important, however, is for communication to improve within the secondary, between the safeties, and the  corner backs in particular.  

Talent is one thing. Living up to it is entirely another.

But so long as the proverbial panic button isn't hit, then it's only a matter of time before they hit their stride.  All of their media soundbites toe the company line, with the players saying all of the right things to give the fans hope.

Time will tell if it becomes reality.  

"Righting Reflex"

Ever since the dawn of the Jeff Fisher era, this is a franchise that seems to play better with their backs to the wall.  

10-0?  Hello, early playoff exit.

1-4?  AFC title game, here we come.  

While the past is certainly no guarantee for the future, rest assured that coach Fisher will do everything in his power to push the right buttons.  And with this high-caliber roster at his fingertips, folks in Nashville can't help but to harbor a shred of optimism.

This isn't a team that is apt to prematurely begin looking to the next season.  They are, however, very streaky.  Since their 10-0 start a year ago, the Titans have lost seven out of their past ten games.  

Considering the law of averages and the gritty, emotional nature of this blue-collar team, they're due.

Remember, in the NFL, it's not about who bursts out of the gate the fastestit's about who gets hot at the right time.  

When it comes to postseason magic, it wouldn't be surprising if this year's squad were able to parlay its slow start into something even more special than last season.

It would only be fitting.