The Titans now know exactly what they have to do in order to make the playoffs. Win their three remaining games and hope that somehow the New York Jets (and to a lesser degree the Cincinnati Bengals) stumble once.
The Titans' 22-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday left the Titans at 7-6 for the season, and that combined with the Jets' victory over Kansas City leaves the Titans a full game out of the last wild-card spot in the AFC. Cincinnati is also 7-6 and would win out over the Titans if the two teams are in a single head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of an earlier win over Tennessee.
Tennessee's chances to win the AFC South evaporated on Sunday with their loss, coupled with the Houston Texans' win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Titans' remaining schedule is favorable enough, as it amounts to a trip around the AFC South. Next up is a trip to Indianapolis, where they have to hope they don't become the team that gives the lowly Colts their first win of the season.
After that, there is a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the regular season closes on the road against the Texans, who may or may not have playoff seeding to play for by the time the regular season ends that week.
Coming out of Sunday's loss, the Titans were frustrated at not being able to close the deal as rookie quarterback Jake Locker was sacked at the 7-yard line on the game's final play. But there was still cause for optimism in the ranks with three games left that a postseason berth could be salvaged.
"We should've won it, but coulda, shouda woulda. We've got three conference games in a row, and I'm looking forward to them, because I thought our team showed a lot of heart today. I don't think at the beginning of the year, we could've come back like we did," said defensive end Dave Ball.
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan said Sunday's effort was good, but not good enough, and the Titans have to finish things if they are going to make the run they hope to to earn a postseason invite.
"We want to win football games. We have three games left, and we'll take them one at a time," Finnegan said. "You win and take care of business. You know 10-6 looks good, but you have to get them one at a time. We go to Indy next week, and have three division games, so you know we'll look forward to that."
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