We’re heading into Week 16 of the NFL season, and the playoff picture is starting to shape up. The possible Titans playoff matchups are starting to take shape, with the Chiefs, Bills, and Steelers locking up their playoff spots already. It comes down to these last two games for the rest of the AFC to finalize the postseason rankings.
If the season ended today, Tennessee would be the fourth seed, as they currently are the favorites to win the AFC South. This will be the first time the Titans would accomplish this feat since 2008 when Tennessee finished with an impressive 13-3 record.
This year, the best the Titans can hope for is to lock up a playoff spot in Week 16, as either a win vs the Packers, a loss from the Dolphins or a loss from the Raiders would give Tennessee a playoff berth. With that said, there are several different scenarios that can happen within these next two weeks that will determine the Titans’ first opponent during Wild Card Weekend. Here are seven potential Titans playoff matchups:
Likely Titans Playoff Matchups
Right now, the Titans hold the fourth seed, while the Cleveland Browns maintain the fifth seed. If everything stays the same, this will be the wild-card game team that Tennessee will face to start the postseason. Of all of the potential Titans playoff matchups, this would be one of the most recent rematches.
The last time these teams played was in Week 13, where the Browns torched the Titans in the first half. Baker Mayfield looked like the superstar QB the Browns have been searching for the last one hundred years (at least it felt like it). The lead was too much for the Titans to come back from, but they still put up a valiant effort in the second half.
Although the game was substantially lopsided, this playoff matchup could go a bit differently. The Titans would be seeking revenge after being embarrassed, and have a real chance to defeat Cleveland in the first round.
At the end of the day, if this game were to happen, it would be a one for the ages. The Titans have the top offense in the league right now, while the Browns defense has the ability to stifle the run. This isn’t the best matchup for Titans fans, but it’s a game that is winnable.
Another scenario that can happen is if the Titans wind up losing the AFC South, and end up facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at the get-go. Similar to the Browns game, the Steelers embarrassed the Titans in the first half, only for Tennessee to make an impressive effort to nearly win that game.
At the moment, these teams are on opposite ends of the playoff trajectory. Tennessee is red hot after lighting up the Jaguars and Lions in their last two games. On the other hand, Pittsburgh has looked mediocre (to say the least) since receiving their first loss in Week 13 to the Washington Football Team.
Once the playoffs start, I’m sure Mike Tomlin will be able to calm his team down and get them focused for the postseason. How everything is going right now though, facing the Titans in the first round would be the worst-case scenario for this Steelers team. I foresee the Titans outpacing Pittsburgh in a high scoring game if this one comes to fruition. Pittsburgh is one of the possible Titans playoff matchups that fans want the most, and it’s easy to see why.
There could be a situation for the Colts to jump the Browns in the playoff rankings. If Cleveland goes 1-1, while the Titans and Colts win out, Indy’ would end up playing the Titans yet again. This would be the most boring of all of the possible Titans playoff matchups, and also one Titans fans might dread.
This would be a dangerous situation for Tennessee. Sure, these division rivals went 1-1 in the regular season; but throughout history, the Colts have the Titans number. First, it was Peyton Manning, then it was Andrew Luck, and now it’s Philip Rivers. Sure, he’s not in his prime anymore, but with a gunslinger under center, he’s always going to give the Colts a chance to win games.
Additionally, rookie RB Jonathan Taylor has come alive at the right time. He’s gone ballistic in his last four games, posting 414 rushing yards along with three touchdowns during that stretch. However, Tennessee does have the top offense right now, and they basically have the Incredible Hulk playing running back. They could match Indy’s offensive firepower.
This would be a game that would come down to the wire, with the winner being whoever has possession of the ball near the end of the game. Both teams have caught fire at the right time, and the fact that they’re division rivals adds just that much more drama.
Long-shot Titans Playoff Matchups
This would be a circumstance where everything has gone right for the Titans in these final two weeks. Tennessee has a slim chance to end the year as the second seed, and if that’s the case, the Titans could be facing the Miami Dolphins in the first round.
The Dolphins have been noticeably better since Brian Flores took over as head coach, as just two years ago this franchise was the laughing stock of the NFL.
Miami’s defense has been playing better as of late, and Tua Tagovailoa has been showing why he was selected fifth overall in last year’s draft. The kid is just a winner, and so far seems to be the right guy to help turn things around for the Dolphins.
This would be an enticing matchup, as these teams haven’t faced each other at all this year. The Miami defense is the definition of the “bend but don’t break” mantra. They’re 18th at stopping the pass, 19th at stopping the run, but they’re the number one defense when it comes to allowing points scored.
At the end of the day, the Titans have the playoff experience and seem to be the more prepared team than the Dolphins. As fun as this game might be, I would expect Tennessee to walk away with a win; although this one could be one of the possible Titans playoff matchups that the team would like to avoid.
This is another possibility where the Titans find themselves in the two seed, but instead, the Baltimore Ravens sneak in as the seven seed. This is another scary matchup for the Titans, as the last game these two played ended with a Derrick Henry walk-off touchdown in overtime.
A playoff matchup in the dead of winter, where both opponents are extremely run-heavy teams? Sign me up! Old school football sometimes gets lost in the flashy pass game we see across the league. Between Henry, Lamar Jackson, and J.K. Dobbins, the running game would be on full display in this playoff matchup.
On top of that, there’s a good chance this game comes down to the wire, as I don’t see either one of these franchises completely dominating the other for quite a while. The key difference in this game would be the Titans passing game. Although these teams favor the run, Tennessee has legit weapons in Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, and Corey Davis. If this matchup comes to fruition, the Titans would likely open up the Ravens’ defense with the passing game, then finish them off with Henry.
Las Vegas Raiders
In order for the Raiders to make the playoffs, they’re going to need a few miracles to happen. If so, there is a chance for them to face the Titans in the first round if the Titans end up with the two seed.
I personally pegged Las Vegas as a Wild Card team at the beginning of this season, but I didn’t expect their defense to be this bad. For the season the Raiders are currently ranked 25th in total yards allowed, 26th in passing yards allowed, 25th in rushing yards allowed, and are 29th in points allowed.
Considering how talented the Titans’ offense really is, this game would likely get out of hand quickly. TE Darren Waller would probably have a great game, but if the lead got too out of hand, RB Josh Jacobs would be written out of the game script as Las Vegas would be playing catchup in the 2nd half.
If Tennessee earns the second seed in the playoffs, their fans should be rooting for the Raiders to take over that seventh spot. It would be the easiest of all of the potential Titans playoff matchups.
Finally, the last possible Titans playoff matchup for the first round is the Buffalo Bills. For this to happen, nearly everything has gone wrong, and Tennessee would find themselves as the sixth or seventh seed. Considering the situation this franchise would put themselves in if this scenario plays out, Titans fans should feel a bit worried about facing the Bills here.
If the Bills end with the two or three seed, and Tennessee in sixth or seventh, that means Buffalo has remained red hot while the Titans have fallen off the rails. These teams already matched up back in Week four, where Tennessee thrashed the Bills 42-16.
But this is a different Bills team right now. Josh Allen has been playing out of his mind, and the Buffalo defense is keeping their opponents at bay. Not to mention, Stefon Diggs has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL this year too, and the Titans pass defense is just awful.
The chances these teams play each other in the first round are slim, but it would for sure be a classic game. Is anyone else ready for a repeat of the Music City Miracle?