The Tennessee Titans (2-1) put forth their most complete performance of the young campaign in Sunday’s 27-3 thrashing over the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3). The Titans held the lifeless Bengals to 211 yards of offense and 2-of-9 (22.2%) on third down attempts. Offensively, the Titans totaled 400-plus yards for the first time this season.
Tennessee’s attention swiftly shifts to following up a quality performance with another quality performance. The Titans will play their first divisional contest of the campaign when they travel to Indianapolis to face the better-than-expected Colts. A lackluster defeat would return to the fan-base to the dread experienced less than a fortnight ago.
It’s been a consistent issue for the Titans, even through the successful Mike Vrabel era. The Titans are 0-1 in such situations this season. They followed up an exciting 27-24 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers with an absolute stinker versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. Ironically, the Titans lost that game 27-3, the exact final score of Sunday’s triumph over the Bengals. The Titans nearly had as many penalty yards (80) as they did total yards of offense (94) in that no-show defeat.
Perhaps it’s being harsh, but I’d argue the Titans never followed up a quality performance with another quality performance throughout the 2022 campaign. Winning trumps all, but I was largely unimpressed with the five-game winning streak that took place from Week 3 to 8. The Titans never defeated one of those opponents by 10-plus points, claiming hard-fought victories over the Indianapolis Colts (twice), Houston Texans, Washington Commanders, and Las Vegas Raiders. They averaged 21 points per contest throughout those wins. Of course, the Titans were exposed as pretenders later that year.
None of those squads qualified for the postseason. Two of the opponents owned selections in the top four of the 2023 NFL Draft, accounting for three of those five victories (Colts twice, Texans). The Raiders also possessed a top-10 selection. Just weeks later, a 17-10 victory over the Nathaniel Hackett-coached Denver Broncos was equally uninspiring.
The Titans’ most complete performance of the 2022 campaign was the 27-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers. They didn’t win another game, concluding the campaign on a seven-game losing streak. An overtime defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs was quite impressive given Malik Willis started, but was followed up with the aforementioned forgettable victory over the Broncos.
You’d have to go back to 2021 to locate week-to-week consistency. A midseason five-game winning streak over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Chiefs, Colts, and Los Angeles Rams was the last time Vrabel’s squad strung together eye-opening performances.
Sunday’s divisional showing versus the Colts is in Indianapolis. The Titans are 0-2 on the road this season. In those defeats, they’re averaging an unimaginative nine points per contest. They’ve converted four-of-24 third down attempts for a woeful average of 16.6%. They’ve gained 189.5 net yards of offense. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked on eight occasions on the road, and committed three turnovers against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1.
The Titans exorcised their demons against Joe Burrow and the Bengals on Sunday, who owned a 3-0 record vs. Tennessee under the current regime. The Titans could continue their momentum by defeating the Colts, possibly taking sole possession of first place in the equal-footing AFC South. A loss would welcome the inconsistent Titans back to the drawing board.