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The importance of the Titans’ win over Houston

Three things come to my mind when thinking about the importance of the Titans’ win over the Texans yesterday. Two of them have to do with next year, so I’ll list the three in chronological order.
Item One: The win keeps Tennessee alive, barely, in the hunt for a playoff berth, trailing the 8-6 Colts and 8-6 Jaguars. The Titans would have to win out while the Colts and Jags lose out. Here’s the breakdown for the division from Paul Kuharsky, which also gives the scenarios for the Colts and Jags to win the title.

I’m not too concerned with that. There’s not much chance of the Titans winning the division and even if the unexpected occurs, the Titans would have to face a very good team in Round One, probably the Jets or Ratbirds. I don’t think the Titans are good enough to beat either of those teams, let alone get there. The forecast for either of those games, if they happen, is another one and done.
Item Two: The win may have helped to save Jeff Fisher’s job.
Every game is important, but some games are more important than other games. The two most important games every year for Bud Adams are the Titans at Houston and the Titans versus Houston, in that order.
A loss would have hurt Fisher a lot worse than the win helped. What was important here was not the win, but avoiding the loss. Mission accomplished; well done, Fish.
Critics have long accused Fisher of playing not to lose instead of playing to win. In this case, the Titans didn’t lose.
Item Three: The win takes the Titans out of the top ten positioning for draft picks. Twelve teams have five or less wins, putting them ahead of Tennessee for the time being. The Vikings are playing Monday night and have a chance to get their sixth win, leaving eleven teams ahead of the Titans.
Joining the Titans with six victories are the Seahawks and Rams but each should win at least once more.
Projections for 2011 draft positioning
Team Record Remaining games Proj record Proj draft pick
Carolina Panthers 2-12 @ Stillers, @ Falcons 2-14 1st
Cincinnati Bengals 3-11 Chargers, @ Ratbirds 3-13 2nd or 3rd
Denver Broncos 3-11 Texans, Chargers 3-13 2nd or 3rd
Arizona Cardinals 4-10 Cowboys, @ 49ers 4-12 4th or 5th
Buffalo Bills 4-10 Patriots, @ Jets 4-12 4th or 5th
Detroit Lions 4-10 Dolphins, Vikings 5-11 6th to 9th
Minnesota Vikings 5-8 Bears, @ Eagles, @ Lions 5-11 6th to 9th
Cleveland Browns 5-9 Ratbirds, Stillers 5-11 6th to 9th
Washington Redskins 5-9 @ Jaguars, Giants 5-11 6th to 9th
Dallas Cowboys 5-9 @ Cardinals, @ Eagles 6-10 10th to 13th
Houston Texans 5-9 @ Broncos, Jaguars 6-10 10th to 13th
San Francisco 49ers 5-9 @ Rams, Cardinals 6-10 10th to 13th
Tennessee Titans 6-8 @ Chiefs, @ Colts 6-10 10th to 13th

I’m predicting that three of the teams now at 5-9 will win another game, creating a logjam of teams at 6-10 which will select tenth through 13th.

We may have to trade up if we want to get one of the top quarterbacks. Andrew Luck should definitely be a top pick. Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker and Cam Newton may all go in the top ten.
I happily cheered for the Titans yesterday, as did everyone else in the sections where I sat. I didn’t hear anyone rooting for the Titans to lose just to improve their draft stock or to hurt Fisher’s chances of staying on.
If you’re rooting for Fisher to get fired, the win didn’t help your cause. If you’re rooting for a top ten draft pick, yesterday’s win was a costly one.