Sports, Thrill of Victory

Carolina game could be a turning point for the Titans

The Tennessee Titans certainly exceeded expectations in Week 9.

After firing their head coach, few people gave the Titans a chance in New Orleans. One incredible performance later, and the team had suddenly turned things around.

But as good as the Titans were against the Saints, they’ll need to be even better in Week 10. That’s because Cam Newton and the undefeated Carolina Panthers come to town.

Cam Newton and the undefeated Panthers come to Nashville with a lot of momentum. PHOTO COURTESY NFL

Despite their 8-0 record, it seems that many people are doubting the Panthers as a true contender.

Those people have no idea what they’re talking about.

The Panthers have showed no signs of slowing down this season and just came off of a wildly impressive 37-29 victory over the Green Bay Packers. It was a game that many felt would prove Carolina’s legitimacy as a Super Bowl contender.

Newsflash: They were a legitimate Super Bowl contender way before that.

However, as crazy as this would have sounded to Titans fans several weeks ago, this team is in a great position to give Carolina its first loss. Let that process for a second.

But it makes sense. The Panthers are coming off of arguably their biggest win of the year. The Titans are coming off of what is undoubtedly their biggest win of the year.

What’s the difference? This has trap game written all over it for Carolina.

We’ve seen this many times over the years. Team wins a huge game at home, then plays flat in a road loss the following week. Add in the fact that Tennessee has more momentum than it has had the entire season, and it’s a recipe for intrigue on Sunday.

Few would argue that the Panthers are a better team. Newton may be the NFL MVP leader right now, and the Carolina defense is fantastic. The Panthers should win this game. However, for those that think it’ll be easy due to the difference in records, they’re sadly mistaken.

The Titans have found a breath of fresh air. It started at the top with the coaching change. Mike Mularkey has clearly found something that Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t able to find.

And then it continued with the return of Marcus Mariota. After missing weeks of action due to injury, all Mariota did was go out in win AFC Offensive Player of the Week thanks to a four-touchdown performance in New Orleans.

Marcus Mariota had an impressive performance in his return to action. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Marcus Mariota had an impressive performance in his return to action. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

So sure, the Panthers are a team with a lot of confidence and momentum. But surprisingly, we can now say the same about the Titans.

A month ago, the Titans were an absolute mess. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. You probably could have convinced anyone that a 56-0 Carolina win wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

My how things change.

This will undoubtedly be a huge challenge for Tennessee. But somehow, the Titans are back. At least we hope they are.

With Andrew Luck’s injury in Indianapolis, the AFC South is once again wide open. Yes, even for a Titans team that currently sits at 2-6 on the season.

A win over Carolina would certainly give Tennessee a boost in the division race. But more importantly, it could signal that the Titans have indeed made the necessary changes for success.

A team with nothing to lose is dangerous. The Titans have nothing to lose on Sunday but another game. When you’re 2-6, falling to 2-7 doesn’t change things all that much.

But 3-6 with a two-game winning streak and a win over a Super Bowl contender?

That changes things a lot. A whole lot.