With pretty much every AFC team (except for the Dolphins and Colts) at some point this season being regarded as a potential contender, the Titans are the one team that has faded into and out of the picture enough times to make plenty forget that, as of right now, they have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.
And with the Texans reportedly losing quarterback Matt Schaub for the rest of the season, the Titans could make it not simply by stealing the sixth seed, but by swiping the AFC South.
As of right now, the Texans have a record of 7-3. The Titans are 5-4. That’s a current spread of only 1.5 games.
The good news for the Titans is that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck remains on pace for 3,969 yards, which would surpass his career high by three yards. Without question, Hasselbeck is the best quarterback in the division right now, by a wide margin.
The better news is that, while running back Chris Johnson doesn’t still have his trademark explosiveness, he pounded out 130 yards on 27 carries in a 30-3 win over the Panthers.
The bad news is that the Titans face the Falcons, Buccaneers, Bills, and Saints over the next few weeks. The Texans have a somewhat easier road, with only two objectively tough games in their next five — vs. Falcons and at Bengals.
But the ace in the hole for the team that used to be in Houston is that the Texans will now turn to Matt Leinart, a bust through five-plus NFL seasons.
On January 1, the Texans host the Titans. Depending on the manner in which Leinart performs (and whether the Texans ultimately turn to T.J. Yates or someone else), the division title, and the job of coach Gary Kubiak, could come down to Week 17.