NASHVILLE, Tenn. – At the onset of the season, it was reasonable to expect a team that had scored nearly 30 points per game to sustain a high level of offense. Get the poor defense up to the middle of the pack and the Tennessee Titans would be much improved.

That was the popular thinking, and thinking I subscribed to.Shane Bowen

But the NFL’s unpredictability is its beauty, and a bit of underperformance with a lot of injuries acted as a strong gravitational force on the Titans’ offense this season. We’ve seen some outbursts, but overall, it’s nowhere near what it was a year ago.

Derrick Henry was lost after eight games, A.J. Brown missed four and Julio Jones has been a non0-factor. Lacking in weapons and protection Ryan Tannehill has been a much lesser quarterback.

The scoring is down nearly a touchdown per game and the turnovers are way up, from 12 in 16 games to 25 in 15 games so far.

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By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans’ 20-17 win over the 49ers came down to three things: Turnovers, quarterback play, and coaching adjustments.

The Titans won in all three of those categories.

Ryan Tannehill

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

The Titans held on and kept the game close, started to find their footing, kept the score close enough and avoided their own turnovers.

The 49ers were outcoached and outplayed.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Third-and-hopeless, it looked like.

The Titans only had 130 net yards and faced third-and-23 on the final play of the third quarter. While the defense had made it so they were in a tied game, things weren’t looking so great.

A.J. Brown

© Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill saw a flag to his left and stepped up out of trouble, looking to that side first for Julio Jones, then turning his attention to the right and letting fly for A.J. Brown. Brown maneuvered in front of Ambry Thomas, high-pointed the ball, strong-arming it and holding it out as he went to the ground – for Thomas, for the officials, for the crowd, for you, for me.

Forty-two yards. Offsides against Samson Ebukam declined.

That was the peak moment of Brown’s re-emergence, a brilliant performance that catapulted the Titans to a 20-17 win and lifted them to a 10-5 record.

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Screen Shot 2021 12 23 at 11.20.15 PMNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans came back to life, beat the 49ers 20-17 with a very late field goal and got their magic number for the AFC South down to one.

We've had much to discuss following their 10th win of the season.

Dillon Radunz played and was better than serviceable -- though let's not throw a parade for a second-round pick finally doing something of substance in Week 16 and Game 15. A.J. Brown re-emerged and was fantastic, serving as the key to Ryan Tannehill's second-half awakening.

The giveaways disappeared and the takeaways showed up again. Nissan Stadium rocked.

Head below the line or to the private Facebook page to rewatch the conversation about all of it.

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Scouting preview: Tough assignment for Titans to beware of Nick Bosa

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thursday night, the Titans will face an offense that has multiple high-level playmakers and a defense that showcases a top outside pass rusher and a very disruptive inside player just like they faced last week against the Steelers.

Defensive end Nick Bosa is a top rusher who can combine very good size, leverage and strength with explosive get-off and the unique ability to rush inside and outside of the tackle with great body lean, pad level while maintain his balance, body control and speed to the quarterback.D'Onta Foreman

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

Bosa lines up on the offensive right side and will be matched up with Titans right tackle David Quessenberry.

Quessenberry has struggled most of the season but has had an even tougher time the past few weeks. Now he could be on the left, with both Taylor Lewan (back) and Kendall Lamm (Covid) out.

Bosa will need to be accounted for by multiple Titan blockers.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jeffery Simmons and Harold Landry look like Pro Bowl players on a Titans' defense that's been a revelation a year after it managed just 19 sacks and yielded over a 50 percent conversion rate on third down.

But if they make the team it will because someone drops out or makes the Super Bowl.

Kevin Byard is the Titans' long Pro Bowler on the initial AFC Team.

Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

And that's the one that should carry the real weight, frankly, as the roster has gotten increasingly watered down because guys withdraw dues to injuries or as they don't care to play, or because are part of the team when their franchise goes to the Super Bowl.

That doesn't mean Simmons and Landry have not had great seasons, but it does mean ballotting by fans, coaches and players -- which each counts a third -- deemed others worthy ahead of them. [Unlocked]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A defensive theme that’s emerged for the Titans this year winds up being too much to ask when the offense plays poorly.

I understand and appreciate high aspirations.

But the call for the Titans to outplay the other team’s defense is a little much if outplaying the other team’s defense requires forcing five takeaways, no?Kevin Byard

Courtesy Tennessee Titans 

To have outplayed the Steelers they would have needed five takeaways, and the last time the franchise had five was Dec. 17, 2012. They would have needed the same to have outplayed the Texans in Week 11.

And they would have needed six to top New England in Week 12, something they haven’t done since 2007. [Unlocked]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Defenses are still loading the box, and the Titans are still running with success.

The team absolutely misses Derrick Henry. His playing style, home run hitting, ability to dominate a game and leadership are obviously integral to their offense.

A.J. Brown

Pool photo/ Mark Humphrey, AP

But in six games without him, they’ve pieced together a run game that averages 135 yards a game, just 13 fewer than they were getting with Henry in the backfield.

It’s the absence of A.J. Brown that’s been a bigger hit to the Titans.

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