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Friday, February 7, 2014
Trending up: Tennessee Titans

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In NFL Nation’s season wrap-up, I had to give the Titans an arrow indicating if they were trending up or trending down.

I gave them an up arrow. It was mostly because they had won the final two games, even if they were against bad opponents. Since then the team fired Mike Munchak and hired Ken Whisenhunt, who has put together what appears to be an upgraded staff. That makes me a lot less wary of giving them an up arrow now.

ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak saw that eight teams that didn’t make the playoffs got up arrows, and so we put together a ballot to rate which are the most likely to jump to the playoffs in 2014.

The Steelers and Cardinals were first and second, and the 2-14 Texans were third.

The Titans were sixth of eight. We voted before Whisenhunt was hired, and he may have boosted Tennessee on this list.

Are the Titans close?

I think in addition to being poorly coached, the franchise overrated its talent. Better coaching will tell us if that was the case or not.

But even if the roster isn’t very good, we’ll see a free-agent class and a draft class added to the mix, and the team will be employing new schemes on offense and defense.

The jump from 7-9 to 9-7 or 10-6 and a playoff spot isn’t monumental. And teams emerge from nowhere to make the playoffs every season.

While the rest of the division will improve, there is no reason the Titans can’t be better than the Jaguars and Texans again. They’ve been nipping at the Colts in recent years in head-to-head chances, but unable to break through.

There are other teams on the list with a better chance of making the jump -- largely because they have better answers at quarterback.

But the Titans shouldn’t be starting a multiyear rebuild here. They should position themselves for a jump. The question is, will it be a big enough one to land them in the playoffs?