Monday, November 25, 2013
How the Titans have the sixth seed for now
By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com has a great page that sorts out standings by playoff picture.
It tells us that while there is a jumble of six teams with 5-6 records tied for sixth place in the AFC, it's the Tennessee Titans who would come out as the tie-breakers winner if the playoff field was set right now.
Here's how the tie-breaking works
Wins tie break over NY Jets, Pittsburgh and San Diego based on head-to-head sweep. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Miami (NY Jets wins tie break over Miami based on best win percentage in division games). Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Baltimore (Pittsburgh wins tie break over Baltimore based on head-to-head win percentage).
The trouble for the Titans, of course, is that the playoff field isn't set after 12 weeks and 11 games.
The Titans have divisional rematches with three teams they've already lost to, two of the three on the road, starting Sunday in Indianapolis. (With the current playoff picture, the Colts would host the Titans in a wild-card game.)
Tennessee controls its fate, but maintaining that control would mean winning its final five games in a row. Beyond those rematches, they've got a trip to Denver and a home game against surging Arizona.
The Titans can look back now at a blown game against previously winless Jacksonville and at a blown 14-point lead against Indianapolis and see how they could have a lead for the sixth spot, or even own the fourth spot by being in first place in the AFC South.
But cornerback Alterraun Verner said the other five 5-6 teams can all sketch out similar scenarios for themselves.
"Those teams are thinking the same things, they are thinking, 'We could have done this or that and we'd be in a better position,'" he said. "The Jets are probably saying they should have won down at our place, the Dolphins had a couple of close ones. It's not fair to say that (just about us). That's the NFL.
"We're just fortunate that we're in this position and we hold our fate just a little bit."
Receiver Nate Washington is in his ninth season and said it's hard to look at the standings and believe the grouping the Titans are part of.
"I've never seen this many teams up in the playoff hunt," he said. "As long as we're in it, all we can do is worry about us. I think this is definitely a new NFL compared to what it was years ago."
Ryan Fitzpatrick remembered 2008, when Tom Brady was hurt and the Patriots missed the playoffs with an 11-5 record.
This year it's likely a 9-7 or 8-8 team will secure the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
The Titans should want it. Anything can happen for the team that gets it. But right now it's hard to imagine the Titans, Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Jets or Dolphins doing a lot of damage in the postseason.