The Titans have clinched a second straight AFC South title and three straight playoff spots with Mike Vrabel in Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season. This time, Tennessee is also tied for the best record in the AFC at 11-5 and may enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with home advantage and the only goodbye.
Here’s how the Titans can maintain their first favorable spot heading into Super Bowl 56, and also see how far they can fall in the rankings on Sunday:
WEEK 18 PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
What must the Titans do to get first place?
They can maintain their place in three ways in week 18:
1. The Titans win
This is the easiest and most likely scenario. Tennessee is a favorite on the roads of Houston. But the Titans won’t take the host Texans lightly either, as they lost to them at home, 22-13 in Week 11. That would put the Titans at 12-5, either tied with the Chiefs or with one game. advantage. The Titans own the head-to-head tiebreaker because they beat the Chiefs at home in Week 7.
2. Titans tie but bosses lose or tie
This is almost like No. 1, but this would ensure that none of the three 10-6 teams behind the Titans and Chiefs – the Bengals, Bills and Patriots – can catch up on the standings. Tying the Chiefs for the standings but staying ahead of everyone else also secures No. 1. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Kansas City is also a huge road favorite in their game in Denver on Saturday.
3. The Titans lose but the Chiefs lose, the Bengals lose or tie and the Patriots lose or tie
Tennessee would be asking for a minor miracle here to keep No. 1 by failing to beat Houston. Besides the Chiefs losing to the Broncos, the Bengals can’t beat the Browns on the road and the Patriots can’t beat the Dolphins on the road. The Titans, 11-6 in that scenario, would still be tied with the Chiefs but still ahead of the Bengals and Patriots by half or a full game.
4. The Titans lose but the Chiefs lose, the Bengals lose or draw and the Bills win
The Titans are again 11-6 here, tied with the Chiefs and ahead of the Bengals. But here, the Bills would also be 11-6 and win the AFC East over the Patriots. There are no problems in a three-way tie between the Titans, Chiefs and Bills because the Titans beat both teams.
How low seed can the Titans be in the AFC?
If the Titans don’t take No. 1, they could finish No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4.
The Titans beat the Chiefs and Bills. But they also lose tiebreaks to the Patriots (head-to-head after losing in Week 12) and the Bengals (conference record).
Implied by the No. 1 scenarios above, the Bengals are also up for the No. 1 seed. Depending on the results of the Chiefs and Bengals, the Titans are more likely to fall to No. 2 or No. 3 with a defeat.
The only way the Titans can fall to No. 4 is if the Patriots win the AFC East by beating the Dolphins, while the Bills lose as big favorites at home to the Jets. That adds to the Chiefs and Bengals jumping the Titans with wins while the Titans lose.
With results ranging from getting a free pass in the divisional round to facing the toughest matchup in the wild-card round, the Titans shouldn’t want to leave anything to chance out of their control.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.