With Four Straight and Counting, Titans Set Sights on Improbable Goal

Bryan Hollister@too_old_4stupidAnalyst INovember 25, 2009

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 23:  Running back Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans rushes past linebacker Zac Diles #54 of the Houston Texans and Brian Cushing #56 in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on November 23, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

If there's one thing I know about football, it is this—the improbable occurs with striking regularity.

In both individual accomplishments and team achievements, improbable events pepper the NFL history books. Memory alone conjures up the 1972 Dolphins undefeated season, going 14-0 in the regular season then 3-0 in the post season, a record that still stands.

Or how about the Immaculate Reception, a play that John Madden disputes to this day, to give the Steelers a victory over the Oakland Raiders and send them to the 1972 AFC Championship?

Individual accomplishments, you say? Rocky Bleier comes to mind, the scrappy Steelers running back who fought back from injuries received in combat during the Vietnam War to become a starting running back in Pittsburgh, winning four Super Bowl Rings.

Or maybe you're into recent events: How about Teddy Bruschi, the New England Patriots linebacker who suffered a stroke in 2005, only to return the next year and play until 2008? Or the erstwhile Detroit Lions, who did the seemingly impossible in losing all 16 of their games last year?

The point is, the improbable happens all the time.

So I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying that the Titans aren't out of the running for the post season just yet.

Considering that they are only two games out of the wildcard race with six games remaining, I'd go so far as to say they have a better than average shot at it.

It won't be easy; their next two opponents are the defending NFC Champion Cardinals and the currently undefeated Colts—both teams that they have lost to more than they have beaten.

While Arizona may only be 7-3, they have a deadly combination in Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald that could cause considerable trouble for the Titans secondary.

As for the Colts, they have Peyton Manning.

In Indianapolis.

In prime time.

On Christmas.


Indianapolis also leads their division and is looking to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. So are Arizona and San Diego.

As for the other three, Miami is still in the hunt, and at 5-5 they need every game, just like the Titans do. A loss to Tennessee would prove costly in the tie-breaker. And vice versa.

Seattle has seven losses; while 9-7 was good enough to make the playoffs last year, it took Arizona winning the division to do it. Seattle won't be so lucky. But they can make plenty of noise as a spoiler.

We'll leave St. Louis alone because it isn't polite to speak ill of the dead.

All things considered, though, this is not an unmanageable task for the Titans. Herculean, maybe, but not impossible. Improbable, yes, but not out of the question.

They do still have Chris Johnson, arguably the best running back in the league. He is a threat to both run and catch the ball, and he shows no signs of slowing down a lick.

And as evidenced in the game against Houston, game-planning against him seems to have no effect on his ability to slip defenders and pick up big yards.

LenDale White can still shove it up the middle in goal line situations. Kenny Britt is developing into a stellar receiver. Bo Scaife is making himself known to defensive secondaries.

What else? Oh yeah—that Vince Young guy.

So far, Young has come out and improved every week, gaining more comfort in the pocket with each passing game, yet still able to swing outside and make defenses react to him being on the move. And when he does move, most times he makes it count.

On top of all that, four of Tennessee's six games are at home in front of what is sure to be a friendly crowd for Vince Young and Company.

That is, as long as they keep winning.

But who knows? Stranger things have happened.


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