As the NFL shifts into the second half of the season, this is the time of year many fans look ahead and do a bit of fortune telling.
The Tennessee Titans stand at 5-3 and are currently in first place in the AFC South, holding a convincing Week 2, 37-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are also 5-3 for a share of the top spot in the division. With eight games remaining before the postseason, now is a good time to compare the two front runners’ schedules in attempt to figure who might walk away with the divisional crown.
Starting with Tennessee, the Titans host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) this week, before traveling to face the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) in Week 11. My gut tells me the Titans beat the Bengals and then fall to the Steelers because they always do.
That puts Tennessee at 6-4 heading into a stretch of divisional games at the Indianapolis Colts (3-6) in Week 12 before hosting the Houston Texans (3-5). If the Titans have any desire to win the AFC South this season, there cannot be a let down in either of those two games. They are the types of games Tennessee has struggled with in the past, so it will be interesting to see if they have turned a corner.
Leading up to the season finale, the Titans travel to the Arizona Cardinals (4-4), before visiting the bay area in a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers (0-9). The Cardinals are without Carson Palmer and the 9ers are 0-9 for a reason. Those should both be wins for the Titans, giving the team a 10-3 record with two games to play.
While many didn’t predict it, the Titans’ Week 16 game is going to be a freeforall. The Los Angeles Rams are currently 6-2 as the NFC West leader, finally putting up points in bunches to go along with their normally-stout defense. Even though this is a home game for the Titans, I am going to pencil a loss in here just because it is hard for me to imagine a scenario where Tennessee is hot enough to win five straight games. This projection has the Titans at 10-5, with the final game of the season, home against the Jaguars, lining up to be the most-important Sunday of the year.
Jacksonville’s defense is legit to the point of allowing a league-low 117 points to opponents this season. Sinking all those draft picks into that side of the ball is paying huge dividends, which has me looking at the Jaguars’ remaining games and seeing just two losses left for them before Week 17. As of now, I think the Jaguars, who also run the ball very well, will lose to the Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) this week just because teams with solid quarterback play has given the Jaguars their only losses this season.
Jacksonville continues at the Cleveland Browns (0-8), at the Cardinals before hosting the Colts. In my eyes, Jacksonville is at 8-4 at this point. Their only other loss through the final stretch comes in Week 14 when they host the Seattle Seahawks (5-3). Seattle has a good defense, and when you pair that with a mobile quarterback in Russell Wilson, that spells trouble for Jacksonville.
The Jaguars will bounce back with a home win over the Texans before going on the road to beat the 49ers, leaving Jacksonville with a 10-4 record.
Both the Titans and the Jaguars have the potential of each being 10-win teams when they square off in Week 17, likely for the AFC South crown. Granted, the strength of schedule is down on both sides, but that is still exciting news for fans ready for the division to rebuild into respectability.