Titans Rolling, but for How Long?

Dave StanleyCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 13: Keith Bulluck #53 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the football after intercepting a pass against the St. Louis Rams at LP Field on December 13, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Rams 47-7 as had five interceptions on the day. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Momentum, it's a funny thing. 

Carrying it over from play to play—or even game to game—isn't all that hard to do.  

But to sustain it from one season to the next? Well, that's a little bit harder in this parity-laden era of free agency.  

Any good fortune a team might have usually comes in the form of an exploding offer. Don't count on it happening next season.  

With that in mind, just what will be the ultimate short to mid-term fate for the Tennessee Titans?  

In some ways, their recent winning streak is just as much of a curse as it is a blessing. At the end of the day, they're bad enough to miss the playoffs, but good enough to ensure only a "so-so" draft pick.

Call it a modern interpretation of pro-football purgatory.    

Of course, this is still technically theoretical. At this time, the Titans still harbor a shred of playoff hope. In addition, a lot can happen between now and draft day.

But regarding the migraine-inducing "what next?" questions, well, Tennessee has a bunch.  

There's the quarterback issue, for starters. Vince Young, who's played well since his reinsertion into the starting lineup, went down with a hamstring injury yesterday (after the longest run of his career, no less).  

While we don't yet know the extent of the injury, will missed playing time affect his status for next year? Or has he already done enough to cement his resurgence?  

In addition, several key players on defense, such as Nick Harper and Keith Bulluck, are nearing the twilight of their careers. But given the youthful talent on the rest of that side of the ball, the smart money is on reloading, not rebuilding.  

So, just how do the Titans gear up for next year? Do they seek out free agents, or do they rely solely on the draft?  

Granted, there's still plenty of football to be played, and a veritable smorgasbord of scenario's that could play out. The hypothetical questions posed by this story are not meant to be a premature, year-end judgment.    

But, in light of the other fringe playoff teams playing well, such as the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins, it looks more and more like Tennessee will miss the playoffs.    

If that is indeed the case, then it's worth noting that there's still much to play for.

Chris Johnson's quest for 2,000 yards and Vince Young's case for Comeback Player of the Year come to mind (presumably, the Titans would have to make a deep playoff run for Johnson and coach Jeff Fisher to legitimately contend for MVP and Coach of the Year honors, respectively).   

It's ironic, really. For Tennessee, the more they win, the more questions that are posed about their immediate, murky future. For instance, if they would have continued in their underachieving, losing ways, then next season's agenda would be a no-brainer.

Draft a quarterback, speed-dial Mike Shanahan.  

But, rest assured, they will find a way to indefinitely contend, no matter how the rest of this season plays out.  

Jeff Fisher, who's essentially the Jerry Sloan of the NFL, always finds a way to get the most out of the players he has.

At this point, however, we'll just have to wait and see just exactly who those players will be.