The Tennessee Titans defense has a mantra that keeps their energy high at practice. "Top 10, top 10," they yelled for weeks. Now, it's, "Top five, top five." Those words represent NFL top defensive rankings, which are categorized by yards per game. Those simple words mean something significant for the Titans defense: respect. "We’re a defense that knows we’re going to have to earn our respect," said safety Kevin Byard, who is tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions. "I know we weren’t ranked well at the beginning of the year. We started to play better and we look up -- then we’re top 10." The Titans defense, particularly their secondary, has been an overachieving bunch and Reason No. 1 why the team is 8-5 and in good position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They rank ninth in the NFL, giving up just 323.3 yards per game. It's nearly 35 yards fewer a game than they gave up last season. Byard points to an embarrassing 57-14 loss at Houston in Week 4 as the mark of their turnaround. They've been a different bunch since that day, allowing more than 22 points just once.
A season of overachieving has landed Titans among top-10 defenses
ESPN | Dec 17