Tennessee Titans Are One Game Out of First Place; Are They Drawing Dead?

Brandon Griffin@simdrummerCorrespondent INovember 29, 2010

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 28:  Quarterbacks Rusty Smith, Kerry Collins and Chris Simms, from left, look on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans (5-6) are just one game behind Indianapolis and Jacksonville in the AFC South race. The Titans crushed the Jaguars earlier this year on Monday Night Football, 30-3, with a bulk of the points coming with Kerry Collins at the helm.

It seems like ages since that game, with the Titans dropping their last four games yet somehow still in the hunt for a playoff berth by virtue of a tight division.

The Titans were manhandled in Houston yesterday, suffering a 20-0 shutout loss as Cortland Finnegan was ejected, and has now been fined $25,000. The Titans hardly looked like the team that beat the explosive Eagles by two scores.

There once potent offense has dropped off the face of the Earth with the loss of Kenny Britt, who should be returning in the next couple of weeks, and Vince Young who is on IR. Suddenly a team that was putting up huge amounts of points almost every weak just looks dead. It was made obvious on Sunday that Rusty Smith is not the answer.

Sure, it was his first start and no one can be expected to have a great day their first start. Then again no one expects to not get into Rob Bironas' field goal range either, especially on a horrible pass defense. Three interceptions for Smith in his first career start. With the threat of a passing game eliminated by an inaccurate, inexperienced quarterback the Texans defense was able to focus on Chris Johnson, which they did and they shut him down.

Now that a team has completely exposed the Titans, is it too late for them to turn their season around, win a couple of games and make the division race go all the way to Indianapolis in Week 17?

It appears as though right now all is lost for the Titans, but then again look how the Chargers do year in and year out, so there is hope and hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things, and a good thing never dies. That, of course, is a quote from Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption.

While there is hope, there isn't much at this point in time. Tennessee has a showdown against Jacksonville. If they can get another win next Sunday everything changes as they will at worst be one game behind the Colts, who they still have to play twice.

The Titans don't have the easiest end of a schedule as their last five games feature the Jags, Colts twice, Texans and Chiefs at Arrowhead, but if they can win four of those games they should win the division. Then again the only loss they could really afford would be the Chiefs game.

Asking the Titans to win four out of five after getting shutout may seem like a tall task, but go back to the last time they were shutout. New England, last year, by 59. They had a bye week after that game which they don't have now, but they rolled off five straight wins. If they can roll five straight again it would lock them into the playoffs no matter what by virtue of a tiebreaker over Jacksonville, at worst.

So now as they aren't drawing dead, the Titans need to step up as a whole and win football games. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is or who the coach is, they just need to go out and do what they are paid to do. And remember hope never dies.