Although the Tennessee Titans have the easiest remaining schedule of anyone in the NFL, the team isn’t necessarily banking on cruising to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye.
No, according to safety Kevin Byard, the Titans can’t — and won’t — get too comfortable just because they play just two teams with a winning record in their final seven games.
“Why not go undefeated for the rest of the year?” Byard asked. “That’s the mentality that you have to have because at the end of the day, we are in new territory as far as being the top seed and all this other stuff. But if we keep winning, great things will continue to happen. We don’t have to prepare for the worst; [we should] prepare for the best.”
Tennessee’s final seven opponents have a combined 22-42-1 record — only New England and Pittsburgh are currently above .500 — and the team plays perhaps the worst team in the NFL this week in the 1-8 Houston Texans, who have lost eight straight games since a Week 1 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On paper, the Titans should be on cruise control until the playoffs start. But as head coach Mike Vrabel reminded reporters on Wednesday, the games aren’t played on paper.
“I don’t know who draws the papers up, but these games in this league, these are grown men with a lot of pride,” he said. “If you take a play off, you can get hurt. Not only can you lose the game, but somebody can get hurt. That is just never how I ever approached this game. If you drop your hands one time and you get hit in the chin, then you go to a knee. I never bought into any of that stuff. I wasn’t big on paper.”
But if there is a positive to take out of the remainder of the Titans’ less-than-burdensome schedule, it’s that the offense has plenty of chances to find its groove without Derrick Henry.
Of Tennessee’s remaining opponents, four games are against teams whose defense ranks 29th or worse, and five are against teams that allow 23 points or more per game.
“It is a week-by-week league,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “You have to go out and perform each and every week. … As on offense, we have to have urgency. We have to attack this week with urgency. I feel like we have come up with a good plan, we just have to buy in, learn the plan, and go out and execute it on Sunday.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_