Fans of the Indianapolis Colts can rejoice because the Tennessee Titans are no longer the gold standard in the AFC South division.
Let me start by stating that even after the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, and Tennessee Titans defeated AFC West opponents in Week 3, the entire AFC South is still in shambles. Unless the Jaguars were just slept on all offseason, it is likely they will still be a below .500 team in 2022.
The current landscape of the AFC South is tough. Last year, not only did the Titans win the division for the second straight year, but they also earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and received a bye week. Despite getting that No. 1 seed in 2021, Tennessee is 1-3 since, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs, and then starting 2022 at 1-2. What has caused this slight fall from the top for the Titans? How come they are no longer considered a favorite to win the AFC South?
The national media has always put their spotlight on one team in the division because typically, the rest of the division is not competing. Only four times since 2013, the division has sent two teams to the playoffs. Why has the national media not highlighted any of the AFC South after just three weeks? It’s likely because not a single team is making it easy for them too. Tennessee is not the powerhouse of the AFC South anymore, and here are three reasons why.
3. Derrick Henry has taken a step back since his injury
Derrick Henry has not been himself to start the 2022 NFL season. The All-Pro running back has not cracked 100 yards rushing yet this season and he and the Tennessee run game has been underwhelming, averaging just 94 yards a game as a team.
The Titans’ offense runs through Henry and with his slow start, Ryan Tannehill has not recovered in the passing game. Tannehill has struggled so far through the start of the season, which makes it tough for the team to really get moving.
Luckily for them, they picked up a win in Week 3, but against a winless Las Vegas Raiders team, is that something special?
The Titans shouldn’t be confident that they are back as a team when they can’t even get the ball moving in their best playmaker’s hands. Henry has to get moving or the Titans’ offense will continue to struggle. He is nowhere near the level of play he had in 2020 and the first half of 2021 before the injury.
The truth is, if Derrick Henry and the offensive line can’t bring back the elite rushing attack, the Titans simply won’t be as dominant of a team as they were. That’s what made them special, and right now, they don’t have that. As long as the run game is missing in Tennessee, the Titans aren’t a threat to winning the AFC South.