The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Titanic Bubble


Teams on the cusp of making the playoffs heading into the final month of the season need a combination of three things in order to get them over the hump: Momentum, a winnable schedule and a little luck.

Of all the fringe teams in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans are the team that has all three factors going for them at the moment.

True, the defending champion Steelers and 2008 playoff teams the Ravens, Falcons and Giants are all considered bubble teams that have a better shot of making the postseason than the Titans do. But none of those teams are playing at the same level as Tennessee is at the moment and none of all three factors working in their favor like the Titans do either.

Since Jeff Fisher decided to mercifully put an end to the Kerry Collins experience and give Vince Young another shot to be a starter, the Titans haven't lost. They've won five in a row and have done so in a variety of ways: Blowouts (Jaguars and Bills), sound road performances (49ers and Texans), and thrilling comebacks (Cardinals).

Their latest victory provides what perhaps could be the greatest evidence that there is something special about this Titans team.

While trailing an Arizona team that had seized all the momentum late in the fourth quarter in Week 12, Tennessee embarked on one final desperation drive from its own 1-yard line. On three separate occasions, the Titans converted on fourth down, including on the game-winning 4th and 10 when Young found Kenny Britt in the end zone (between several defenders no less) as time expired to give Tennessee an improbable win.

Tennessee went 18 plays and 99 yards in order to beat Arizona on Sunday. The Cardinals had several opportunities to secure victory and yet the Titans still found a way to win, much like they've done for over a month now. This team is finding a way to win and it's not all about Young's resurgence as a quarterback; the defense has played remarkably better than it did earlier in the season, Britt is producing in his first year and the incredible Chris Johnson continues to be a homerun threat every time he gets his hands on the ball.

But the key has been Young. In the past, he would have tried to use his legs in order to lead the Titans on their 99-yard game-winning jaunt against the Cardinals and he probably would have failed. But he is starting to mature as a passer and is starting to beat teams with his arm, which is a scary thought for opponents. He also seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder, which helps someone who has had issues with confidence in the past.

While looking at the Titans' remaining schedule, they play at Indianapolis in Week 13, and then host the Rams, Dolphins and Chargers before heading to Seattle in Week 17. While the Colts and Chargers will certainly offer huge challenges, the remaining schedule is definitely winnable (although making a trip to Seattle is never easy, regardless of how the Seahawks are playing).

Now, if the Titans go into Indy next week and get torched, then none of what they did over the past five weeks will matter in terms of the postseason because their margin of error evaporated with their opening six-game skid. At 5-6, they essentially have to run the table because there are so many teams still in contention in the AFC.

That said, they've seized a ton of momentum during their current five game winning streak, they have a winnable schedule down the stretch and if Sunday was any indication, they certainly have a little luck on their side too.

The Titans have what it takes to keep hope alive and make a run. We'll see if they can put it all together now.

By Anthony Stalter  |  November 30, 2009; 11:39 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Tennessee Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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