How the Tennessee Titans Can Win the AFC South in Week 17

Don’t look now, but the Tennessee Titans could once again be a dangerous football team. After a gritty Thursday Night Football victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Vrabel’s crew is prime to clinch its second-straight AFC South title.

Two games remain on the schedule, but Tennessee has a chance to lock things up in Week 17. Here’s a look at the possible scenarios.

The Titans would win the AFC South with a win or Colts loss

Titans WR AJ Brown smiles after win to maintain first place in the AFC South
AJ Brown of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

With the win over the San Francisco 49ers, the Tennessee Titans improved to 10-5 for the 2021 season. At the moment, they hold a slim one-game lead over the Indianapolis Colts (9-6) for first place in the AFC South.

Even with Jonathan Taylor and company on their heels, the Titans can officially secure the division crown in Week 17.

Tennessee welcomes the surging Miami Dolphins to Nashville in a game with plenty of playoff implications. If the Titans win, they will clinch the AFC South title and a playoff berth.

Even if Mike Vrabel’s squad loses to Miami, it can still win the division. If the Colts lose to Las Vegas Raiders, the Titans would still win the division without beating the Dolphins.

Tennessee controls its own destiny in the AFC South from here on out. The Titans swept the season series against Indianapolis, so they only need one more win to secure the title.

Tennessee can also retake the No. 1 seed in the AFC

Not only can the Tennessee Titans lock up the AFC South in Week 17, but they can also regain the lead in the AFC.

The Titans are the 2-seed in the AFC, behind the 11-4 Kansas City Chiefs. If Tennessee beats Miami and the Chiefs lose to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Titans would move into first place in the conference.

Both teams would have the same record, but Tennessee would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating Kansas City in Week 7.

Tennessee notched a statement 27-3 victory over Patrick Mahomes and company, but the Chiefs have since drastically improved their on-field performance.

If both teams win their Week 17 matchups, the same scenarios will apply to Week 18.

The Titans have a juicy matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars to close out the 2021 season, while Kansas City will face the Denver Broncos.

With the Chiefs one game ahead, they’re in the driver’s seat in the AFC.

The resiliency of Mike Vrabel’s squad could pay off


Derrick Henry’s Season-Altering Return Could Give the Titans a Shot in the Arm in the Crowded AFC Playoff Picture

For the Tennessee Titans to still be able to win the AFC South and compete for the top-seed in the AFC, it’s a testament to head coach Mike Vrabel. The former New England Patriots linebacker fields a physically and mentally tough football team.

All-Pro running back Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury in the Week 8 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and he’s been out ever since. The Titans have also had to play through injuries to star wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

With all of the injuries on offense, the team has needed Ryan Tannehill to pick up the slack. The veteran quarterback is not a guy who can beat you by himself, and he’s struggled at times. Vrabel hasn’t forgotten this team’s identity, though.

Tennessee is still running the football reasonably well and using it to open up the play-action pass. The defense is a middle-of-the-pack unit, but the Titans have continued to be opportunistic on that side of the ball.

The Titans have two games left on their schedule before the postseason begins, and they’re building momentum. The team could get a significant boost if Henry returns. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the 2-time Pro Bowler could return as soon as Week 18.

If Tennessee locks up the AFC South in Week 17, it will guarantee at least one home playoff game, which is huge. No one in the AFC wants to get the unlucky draw of a fully healthy Titans team with plenty of momentum.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference