The upstart Tennessee Titans haven’t just turned the heads of nationwide fans after knocking off the third-seeded New England Patriots and the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens in back-to-back weekends. Apparently, the locals have been more geeked out to accept that a Titans run to glory could actually happen.
The Titans have been rolling thanks in large part to running back Derrick Henry, the biggest bully in a league of bullies. The steamroller has averaged 188.5 rushing yards per game, the most in a single postseason in the Super Bowl era (minimum two games).
With Henry churning, the Titans offer opponents something they aren’t necessarily built for in 2019: Stopping a ground attack that can lean and lean and lean until you break. Mike Vrabel’s defense has been up to the task at every turn, and his team has made zero mistakes in the first two playoff games, executing to near-flawless levels.
Perhaps the win in Foxboro was predicted by some after the Patriots struggled down the stretch. Next to no one, however, saw Saturday’s upset in Baltimore coming. And even those who might have predicted a Titans victory surely didn’t think a blowout would ensue.
The way the Titans have commandeered their side of the AFC playoff bracket has Tennessee thinking bigger than simply being a cute January story.
“This city deserves it,” safety Kevin Byard said. “This city deserves a team that can compete for an AFC championship, and we have to go out there and deliver.”
Tennessee is seeking to become the third team since the NFL changed playoff formats in 1990 to beat the top three seeds in their respective conferences in a single postseason. The first two — the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2010 Green Bay Packers — won the Super Bowl.
Knock off Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and any Tennesseans unsure whether to buy in will fall for the Cinderella darlings.
“I guarantee if we win on Sunday we’ll see a lot more fans here greeting us when we get back from Kansas City,” Byard said.