Three points. It might not seem like much, but it was everything to the Tennessee Titans. For a team that's been sitting dormant for far too long, like a certain scoundrel frozen in carbonite, last season's plus-3 point differential marked an incredible turnaround. In 2014, the Titans were outscored by 184 points. In 2015, they were outscored by 124 points. In 2016, they outscored their opposition by three points. Which means over the course of three years, the Titans improved their point differential by 187 points. That's not insignificant. Expect another improvement in 2017, and don't be surprised if the Titans, a team with an eight-season playoff drought, find a way to keep playing football games into January, when the postseason begins. The Titans might be primed for a surprise playoff run for the first time since Kerry Collins quarterbacked a team that was coached by everyone's favorite punching bag, Jeff Fisher. To turn that possibility into reality, the Titans will likely emulate a team that conquered the regular season a year ago. This year's Cowboys? When Tony Romo went down with yet another back injury last season, all hope in Dallas was lost. The Cowboys, once again, were going to be doomed by Romo's health a year after they went 1-11 without him. The season ended before it had a chance to begin, so the thinking went. But to the surprise of everyone, the Cowboys ended up posting the NFC's best record, winning 13 games. They skipped the rebuilding phase and went straight to the young and dominant phase. The Titans won't win as many games or turn into the dominating, unbreakable force the Cowboys were last year, but they can follow the Cowboys' blueprint all the way into the playoffs. They can, if things break their way, be the AFC's miniature version of the Cowboys by pounding and taking care of the ball and as a result, helping their subpar defense by limiting the amount of plays they're forced to stop.
Why the Tennessee Titans are set up to finally end their lengthy playoff drought
CBS Sports | Jun 15