Are the Titans Lucky, Good, Both, or Neither?
The Titans are 9-0 and are drumming up excitement like back in 1999. That team was also famously offense-deprived and their defense was also bend-but-don't-break, leading up to that improbable Super Bowl run. Back then, though, I remember feeling some confidence in the team. This year's undefeated version seems destined to fail every week.
This is not a question we ask in the pre-salary cap era. The salary cap has redefined what being good in the NFL is, to the point we still don't know what the hell it is when we're supposed to see it. All of the teams currently vying for playoff positions are so deeply flawed, I think the NFL has become the least predictable of the sports, even though currently all sports are mired in some form of mediocrity being passed off as great.
The Phillies are champions of the MLB, but would have lost to a great many of the teams that won championships before it. The Celtics were last year's best NBA team and were pushed to the brink by a losing-record, but playoff-bound, Atlanta Hawks team. And in hockey, although the Red Wings were the best team and won the Stanley Cup, the Nashville Predators came fairly close (closer than RW fans would like) to ousting them in the first round.
But the Titans are riding what so many teams in this era that have won Super Bowls have been riding: that, "I don't see how they do it, but they do it," mantra that the earlier Patriots winners, the Ravens, Steelers, and Giants have all enjoyed. But the Titans' success could end just like that (snappping fingers), so uneasy is the precipice in the NFL. I don't know what to make of this team. Somehow they've scored the 4th most points in the AFC and lead the entire league in scoring defense. It's kind of hard to get truly excited. I get the feeling they could lose 7 games in a row after this and it wouldn't be a surprise.
OK, dumb media alert: I saw some comment on ESPN on Sunday that said the Jaguars, the Titans' next opponent, have some sort of pent-up feelings about that 1999 season where they lost 3 games, all to the Titans, including the AFC Championship. Those who know me know where I'm going with this: how many players are still around, from both teams, from 1999? For the Jags...Fred Taylor...isn't that about it? Titans: Jevon Kearse, who played in Philly for the last few seasons. I guess it could be a "war of hard feelings" between two players festering hard feelings for 9 years after they've already played each other once this season...but it at least seems insignificant. I don't know...maybe I'm dumb.