The Tennessee Titans, Their Playoff Hopes, and the Reality in Between

Dave StanleyCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 06:  Chris Johnson #28 of  the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Truth is stranger than fiction, indeed.

Most folks didn't see the Tennessee Titans' 0-6 free-fall coming.  

But even fewer could have seen them clawing back into contention with a forgotten quarterback tossing the ball to what many perceived to be second-rate receivers.    

Let's face it: A few short weeks ago, no one thought that we'd be talking about the Tennessee Titans and the playoffs in the same sentence.  

Granted, they're on the fringe of the conversation.  

Suffice it to say, the Titans and the Indianapolis Colts are not mentioned in the same sentence.  The latter is on the verge of clinching the AFC's No. 1 seed; the former falls into the dubious "in the hunt" category.  

And even if they were to win out, they would presumably need a bit of help.  However, that help might not be hard to find, given the rash of mediocrity in the AFC.

But I'm not here to wax professorial on all of the wild card playoff scenarios.  

This time of year, there is plenty of that to go around.  Almost too much, in fact.

From the most casual local sports segments to the more advanced prognostications of the NFL Network, there are enough "if/then" diagrams to make your head spin.   

Instead, I am playing somewhat of a devil's advocate today.  

Specifically, there's an elephant in the room that no one seems to be talking about: If the Titans did, indeed, make the playoffs, just how well would they fare?   

While I understand that that question might border on splitting hairs—making the playoffs would, in a way, be akin to a Super Bowl trip after their disastrous start—we must not forget that "just happy to be here" doesn't cut it in the postseason.  

For the most part, teams that back into the playoffs are usually shown the door fairly quickly.  

Yet there are two things that foster a shred of optimism.

First, Tennessee has proven that they can play well with anybody...when they want to.

Second, when you throw in the fact that the majority of the AFC is hovering around a .500 winning percentage, it stands to reason that the Titans would actually have a shot at making a moderate push come January.

Trouble is, they have to actually make the playoffs in the first place.  I'll be the first to admit that, in many ways, everything I've said thus far flirts with me getting ahead of myself.  

But regardless, it's worth pointing out that if—just if—the Titans can defy the odds and sneak in, they could quite well best the fate of their one-and-done predecessors.  

How poetic would a rematch with the Colts be, after avenging their loss to the now-pedestrian New England Patriots in the previous round?

Time will tell; there's still a lot of football to be played and a lot of things that have to fall into place.  

But if the Tennessee Titans can manage to keep playing beyond Jan. 3, they could very well have an unlikely, near-storybook ending to an already interesting season.