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Titans Clinch 2019 NFL Playoff Berth as Derrick Henry Earns NFL Rushing Title

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2019

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill warms up before an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

The Tennessee Titans are heading back to the postseason for the second time in the past three years. 

Tennessee clinched the final seed in the AFC playoffs with a 35-14 over the Houston Texans on Sunday. That victory, combined with the Pittsburgh Steelers' 16-10 loss vs. the New York Jets in Week 16, propelled the Titans into the playoffs.  

Derrick Henry finished his season strong, rushing for 211 yards on 32 carries and earning the NFL rushing title:

Tennessee Titans @Titans

👑 KING RUNS 👑 https://t.co/MZ7DkYu3Pr

After going 9-7 last season in Mike Vrabel's first year as head coach, the Titans matched that record in 2019, though this time it translated into a playoff berth. And the story of the season has been the team's change in quarterback, going from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill.

Mariota began the season as the starter, but the Titans were just 2-4 when Vrabel benched him. 

Since then, the team has gone 7-3 with Tannehill under center, storming into the postseason. And Tannehill has arguably been one of the best quarterbacks during that span, having thrown for 2,544 yards, 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions while completing 70.7 percent of his passes. 

Gil Brandt @Gil_Brandt

Ryan Tannehill joined Aaron Rodgers as only players to complete 75%+ of their passes with rating of 130+ in 3 straight games in NFL history. Tannehill also joined Russell Wilson as the only players with four straight games with 2+ passing TDs and rating of 125+ in NFL history.

His passer rating (116.5) ranked first in the league entering Sunday. 

Tannehill hasn't been the only story. Henry has emerged as a star in his fourth season. Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown has given the Titans a true threat on the outside and a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. Players like safety Kenny Vaccaro and center Ben Jones, among others, have exceeded expectations. 

Josh Norris @JoshNorris

AJ Brown is an absolute baller We might be witnessing rare

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

AJ Brown might be my favorite player in the NFL.

Tennessee's prize for reaching the postseason is an AFC Wild Card Round matchup at the New England Patriots. The Titans did not play the Patriots this season, though given New England's struggles on offense, the Pats are as vulnerable as they've been in years.

The Titans will justifiably be the underdogs on the road against Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the NFL's best defense. Regardless, Tennessee's season has to be considered a success after such a poor start to the season. The Titans appear to be moving in the right direction under Vrabel's watch.