The Tennessee Titans had a chance to not only lock up a spot in the NFL playoffs but also the AFC South title this past Sunday night. But unfortunate scheduling had them matched up with likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, a snowy battle that really wasn’t a battle at all as Rodgers & Co. won quite easily, 40-14, and moved one step closer to locking up the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Despite the loss, the Titans still hold their playoff fate in their own hands heading into their Week 17 matchup with the Houston Texans. They can still win the AFC South or grab one of the three wild-card spots still available but there’s also the chance of Tennessee missing out on the NFL playoffs completely.
So let’s dive into the scenarios for each of those situations, shall we?
How the Tennessee Titans win the AFC South
For the Tennessee Titans, the formula to win the AFC South is quite simple. Just win. All the Titans need to do this Sunday is defeat the Houston Texans, which they did back in Week 6 in a 42-36 overtime thriller in which Derrick Henry ran for 212 yards, including the five-yard TD run in OT to give the Titans the victory. As long as Tennessee wins, it doesn’t matter what the Indianapolis Colts do.
If the Titans happen to lose to the Texans on Sunday, they can still clinch the AFC South and the No. 4 seed in the AFC bracket of the NFL playoffs if the Colts, who own the same 10-5 record, lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which doesn’t seem likely. If both Tennessee and Indy tie in their respective games, the division goes to the Titans as they own the tiebreaker over the Colts.
The easiest way to say it is that if the Titans and Colts have the exact same outcome in their respective games (win, lose, or tie), Tennessee wins the AFC South.
How they make the NFL playoffs as a wild-card team
As the Tennessee Titans would win the AFC South with a win over the Texans, the only ways they could lose the division are if they lose or tie and the Colts beat the Jags OR if they lose and Indy ties Jacksonville.
Now, the Titans can still get in with a loss or even a tie. Here are the scenarios in which they can get in as a wild-card if they don’t win the division and only one of these things needs to happen.
- Baltimore loses to Cincinnati
- Miami loses to Buffalo
- Tennessee ties Houston AND Cleveland loses to Pittsburgh
- Tennessee ties Houston AND Miami ties Buffalo
- Tennessee ties Houston AND Baltimore ties Cincinnati
And now here’s a look at the worst-case scenario.
How the Tennessee Titans miss the NFL playoffs
As for how the Tennessee Titans completely miss out on the NFL playoffs, that obviously starts with a loss to the Texans. So if that happens, every single one of the following things would need to occur as well:
- Miami beats Buffalo
- Baltimore beats Cincinnati
- Indianapolis beats Jacksonville
Now, every one of those things could easily happen. The Colts are facing the Jaguars, who are 1-15. The Ravens are facing the Bengals, who are 4-10-1, although Cincy is on a two-game winning streak, and the Dolphins are facing the Bills, who are in a tricky spot as they still haven’t locked up the No. 2 seed in the AFC but still may rest players anyway.
But the Tennessee Titans are obviously hoping that they don’t have to worry about what happens in any other game. They just need to beat the Texans and they’re in. But it’s been a crazy season and we know that anything can happen. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.
Scores, stats, and schedules courtesy of NFL.com