It’s an all but foregone conclusion that the Titans will likely win the AFC South. Their opponents in the division aren’t putting up much of a fight. The team sits firmly in the driver’s seat of their path, but how would they stack up against formidable teams?
Former Titans Receiver A.J. Brown Wrecks Team
The entire league was shocked when the team traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles during the 2022 NFL draft. It was known that Brown and the team were in contract discussions. Many fans assumed the team would pay their top wideout, which would be the end. However, Brown and the team remained far apart on his value. The misalignment of expectations sent Brown packing, landing him with the Eagles for a first-round pick, a third-round selection, and a 4-year $100 million contract. In addition, the team drafted a player with a similar skillset in Treylon Burks.
Until last week, it remained to be seen if Treylon could fill the shoes of Brown. A relatively quiet rookie campaign was not what the team had in mind. They needed Burks to step up quickly. The team was aware of the sheer amount of offensive firepower Brown brought to the table, displayed on Sunday when the team traveled to Philadelphia. And as if almost on cue, Brown showed his former team what he thought of General Manager Jon Robinson not paying him. He exploded for eight receptions, 119 yards, and two touchdowns (including a touchdown that he technically completed twice).
Brown’s apparent replacement, Treylon Burks, made some noise in this game, hauling in a tight, stellar, tight windown touchdown for twenty-five yards. (Caution when watching: unfortunately, Burks was hurt on the play and was ruled out with a concussion.) Losing Burks was a significant blow to the Titans’ offensive game plan. The team never recovered, all but reinforcing that the team made a grave mistake in trading Brown.
The Titans Can’t Beat The Elite Teams
Surely the team learned its lesson after brutal losses to Buffalo, Kansas City, and Cincinnati, right? Not exactly. The Eagles have been humming on both sides of the ball for weeks. However, they showed some wrinkles in their framework with a loss to the Commanders and a win against the Colts. The Titans are superior to both teams and, with a stout defense, should have given the Eagles all they could handle.
Sadly, the team didn’t show up in any phase. Whether it was letting A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith run wild, allowing six sacks on Ryan Tannehill, or never getting Derrick Henry going, the Titans looked like they had no business being in the company of the Eagles. Injuries piled up, and offensive production was way down in a flat-out beatdown, begging the question – are the Titans contenders who just had a bad day, or is the team just pretending?
Are The Titans Contenders Or Pretenders?
The Titans had a prime opportunity to show the Eagles they were a force, a rolling thunderstorm of talent. Unfortunately, they barely made it drizzle. And perhaps more concerning, the team lost significant ground in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The offensive line gave up a staggering six sacks. Without Denico Autry, the pass rush did not exist and hasn’t been found since the Denver game. The team also allowed the most points than it had in the last eight games – a whopping 35 points.
By all accounts, this was highly indicative that the Titans may not be ready for the playoffs. Technically, there is time to “fix” the issues, but this is the part of the season when the team would need to be a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, Jon Robinson’s inefficiencies as GM have returned to haunt him. His well-oiled machine is leaking: his former employee is thriving, Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikine, and Chig Igkokwo are not enough without Burks, and Dennis Daley is the stuff of nightmares. It will allow him to cross the AFC South division title line, but it could run out of gas quickly.
The Titans are frauds. They play very well during the regular season, only to come up short, as of late, in critical moments. They have won back-to-back divisional titles but ultimately lost in the playoffs to the Ravens in 2020 and a divisional-round knockout to the Bengals last season. They are no better than the rest of the division, who will be on the couch watching the playoffs from home. As it stands now, this team is exhausting to fans because fans know the product on the field doesn’t match the talent or capabilities of the team. The question is: what will the Titans do about it?