Perhaps no NFL team needed a first-round playoff bye more than the Tennessee Titans.
In addition to getting an extra week to rest, recover and get Derrick Henry back up to game speed, the Titans also have the added benefit of playing the lowest remaining seed in the AFC divisional round.
Ironically, the Titans are 0-2 against the two lowest seeds in the AFC (New England and Pittsburgh) and they’re 2-0 against the two next highest seeds (Kansas City and Buffalo).
“We have played everybody but the Bengals and the Raiders,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “[We’ll] probably get some advanced work done on them and continue to focus on us and what we have to do better and how we have to play better. Try to find ways to coach better and get healthy and continue to work on things that we think are important to help [us] win.”
Listed below are the four opponents Tennessee could see in the second round:
How it happens: No. 7 Pittsburgh upsets No. 2 Kansas City in super wildcard round
Previous meeting: The Titans lost 19-13 to the Steelers on Dec. 19 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ relentless defense sacked Ryan Tannehill four times and picked him off once. Tennessee had four turnovers, which Pittsburgh turned into 12 points.
New England Patriots
How it happens: No. 6 New England upsets No. 3 Buffalo, No. 2 Kansas City beats No. 7 Pittsburgh
Previous meeting: The Titans lost 36-13 to the Patriots on Nov. 28. Tannehill had his worst game of the season, completing 52.3 percent of his passes for just 93 yards — both season lows. Tennessee turned the ball over four times and allowed Mac Jones to throw for 310 yards and two touchdowns.
Las Vegas Raiders
How it happens: No. 5 Las Vegas beats No. 4 Cincinnati, No. 3 Buffalo beats No. 6 New England, No. 2 Kansas City beats No. 7 Pittsburgh
Previous meeting: The Titans haven’t played the Raiders this season, and the two organizations have faced each other only once during Vrabel’s tenure as head coach — a 42-21 Tennessee win on Dec. 8, 2019.
How it happens: No. 4 Cincinnati beats No. 5 Las Vegas, No. 3 Buffalo beats No. 6 New England, No. 2 Kansas City beats No. 7 Pittsburgh
Previous meeting: The Titans haven’t played the Bengals this year either. Tennessee is 0-1 against Cincinnati under Vrabel, losing 31-20 on Nov. 1, 2020.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_