The Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans were expected to be in the AFC South title race heading into the season.
The good news is that both still are. The bad news is that this division may be the worst that the NFL has ever seen.
A 6-10 team has never made the playoffs. Right now, the Indianapolis Colts sit atop the division with a 3-4 record. The Texans are in second at 2-5, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in third at 2-5, and then there’s the Titans at 1-5.
If you look at the upcoming schedules for all of these teams, it’s hard to find wins. Except, of course, when they play each other. Although ties aren’t out of the question with these four.
So throw the record book out the window when the Titans head to Houston on Sunday. This will be a game between two teams who have been absolutely awful at times this season. Predicting how this game will turn out is almost impossible considering how inconsistent these two teams are.
The Texans went into Miami in Week 6 hoping to turn things around. Instead, they were down 41-0 at halftime and made the 2015 Dolphins look like the 1972 Dolphins that achieved the only perfect season in NFL history.
The Titans were a bit more competitive in their 10-7 loss to Atlanta, but it was yet another case of what might have been.
To put it simply, these two teams could set football back 30 years when they take the field on Sunday.
But it shouldn’t be that way. There’s a lot of talent on both teams. There’s no good reason why both franchises are experiencing such a monumental struggle.
Tennessee drafted it future star in Marcus Mariota this past April and brought in a legend in Dick LeBeau to lead its defense. Houston turned things around last season with a 9-7 record and has star players on both sides of the ball.
With all that said, what’s the problem? No one knows for sure. However, it’s the job of the head coach to figure that out. Neither coach has been able to do that.
Unfortunately for Titans fans, there is a key difference in the two coaches. Bill O’Brien has shown that he can win in Houston after an impressive first-year campaign in 2014.
Ken Whisenhunt, on the other hand, has not shown that in 22 games in Tennessee.
As for which coach needs Sunday’s game more for the sake of job security? Flip a coin.
Logic would seem to suggest that Whisenhunt is much worse shape than O’Brien right now. After all, O’Brien has a successful season under his belt in Houston.
But at this point, given how poor these two teams have been, there’s no guarantees. If neither coach can find a way to turn things around, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both looking for new jobs after this season.
Sunday’s showdown – if you can even call it that – will go a long way towards determining the future of both franchises.
There’s a good chance that neither team will look like a playoff contender this weekend. However, the team that wins will be one step closer to winning the division and earning a playoff spot.
The reality of that scenario is best summed up by the famous rant of former Colts’ coach Jim Mora 14 years ago:
Seeing one of these teams in the playoffs is a scary thought. Happy Halloween from the AFC South.