NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans got an efficient, workmanlike victory highlighted by another standout performance from Derrick Henry.
Now it’s time to prove just how good they might be.
The Titans (9-4) are a win away from their most victories in a season in 12 years after a 31-10 win over Jacksonville. They still have no room for error as they chase their first AFC South title since going 13-3 in 2008 with three games remaining and Indianapolis (9-4) matching them win for win.
“We’re always going to have to play better, especially this time of year as we work towards the end of the year,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. “I think that’s when you have to be playing your best in all areas.”
Tennessee is trying to clinch its third playoff berth in four seasons but seeking to avoid having to hit the road as an AFC wild card. The Titans lead the AFC South only by virtue of the divisional tiebreaker, improving to 4-1 after splitting the season series with the Colts.
They host Detroit (5-8) on Sunday in the final home game of the regular season before traveling for games at Green Bay and Houston.
“Nine wins is good but that’s nowhere near where we want to be,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “Need to keep progressing, need to keep taking advantage of opportunities, find a way to get better here late in the season, and play our best football.”
The offense is chugging along nicely. The Titans posted their fourth straight game with at least 400 yards and at least 30 points, something this franchise had never done. They’ve scored at least 30 points in eight games this season.
Tennessee also had its fourth game with at least 200 yards rushing, tied with Cleveland for the most games this season. The Titans also have had nine guys with 100-yard receiving performances, with A.J. Brown (837 yards) and Corey Davis (835) poised to give this franchise not one but two 1,000-yard receivers.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Ball security. A team that had the fewest turnovers in the NFL through 11 games with only five is starting to have some issues. The Titans gave up three turnovers last week in their loss to Cleveland and lost a fumble in Jacksonville.
It’s repetitive at this point, but Henry. After his second 200-yard rushing game this season, Henry keeps running himself into more NFL history. He has the most 200-yard rushing games with at least two touchdown runs in NFL history, and he’s tied for the most rushing TDs this season with 14.
Henry now is 8 yards from matching the 1,540 yards he had in 2019 leading the NFL in rushing. He’s on pace to be the first to lead the league in rushing in consecutive years since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006-2007.
Outside linebackers. Yes, Jadeveon Clowney is on injured reserve, but the Titans now are last in the NFL with 14 sacks after not being able to get even one against the struggling Jaguars. Harold Landry III leads the team with 4 1/2 sacks, but no one else from his position group has even one.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro missed the Jaguars game because of an illness. Vrabel said the Titans are hoping he returns this week. The Titans have until Tuesday to decide whether to activate rookie CB Kristian Fulton to the active roster.
5 — The Titans have locked up their fifth straight winning season, the second-longest streak in franchise history. Only the Oilers’ stretch of seven consecutive winning seasons between 1987 and 1993 were longer. Only New England (19) Seattle (8) and Kansas City (8) have longer streaks of consecutive winning seasons.
Try to beat the Lions to finish 5-3 at home to improve the Titans’ chances of playing in Nashville in January.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL