NFL Power Rankings: Titans are 8-2, but it's hard to trust them as a contender
Mike Vrabel and his staff have done a remarkable job for the Tennessee Titans. The Titans offense that was built around Derrick Henry, and Tennessee hasn't lost since losing Henry. Tennessee's big splash addition was Julio Jones, who has been mostly a non-factor due to injuries and finds himself on IR. There are reasons the Titans are 8-2 and arguably the hottest team in football after six straight wins. And there are also reasons to wonder if any of this is sustainable. In this NFL, where each new hot contender immediately takes a terrible loss, the Titans stand out. They're not losing, and that has them looking like a bankable asset.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel had to challenge a play in the first half of his team’s game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, and he was furious that the correct call was not made on the field. He had a very enthusiastic way of showing it. © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Titans head coach Mike Vrabel threw his challenge flag with anger.
Titans wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine caught a quick pass on 3rd-and-goal from the 1 and appeared to score, but an official marked him short of the goal line. Even if Westbrook-Ikhine was short when he initially hit the ground, he clearly was not touched before he scooted into the end zone. Here’s the play:
The Tennessee Titans (probably) cannot keep this up
Derrick Henry is on injured reserve. Ryan Tannehill is having his worst season since leaving Miami. Julio Jones is injured and has barely made an impact when healthy. A defense with zero 2020 Pro Bowlers ranks 21st in yards allowed. So how are the Tennessee Titans 8-2…So how are the Tennessee Titans 8-2 and in the catbird seat in the AFC?
Vrabel was in disbelief that he had to challenge the play. He likely felt it should have been ruled a touchdown on the field, especially since it was close and all scoring plays are reviewed. He waited until the play clock got all the way down before spiking the challenge flag in the direction of the official.
Vrabel appeared to apologize for the reaction shortly after. The call was overturned, but you can understand why he was frustrated.
FedEx Driver Seen Hanging up Fallen American Flag, Giving Salute on Security Camera
"'Oh, he's gonna fix the flag, that's a really kind act,' and then he salutes it, and my heart melts," the homeowner said while watching her security footage.The footage showed the FedEx driver stopping for a moment as he noticed that the flag had fallen into the bushes in front of a house in the town of Mathews, North Carolina, CBS News' WJZY reported.
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Related slideshow: NFL teams that made three straight conference championship games (Provided by Yardbarker)
NFL teams that made three straight conference championship games
The Chiefs will become the first AFC team to host three consecutive conference championship games, but several teams have moved into this round in at least three straight seasons. Since the AFL debuted in 1960, here are the teams that have advanced to a league or conference championship three years in a row.
2018-20 Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes changed a franchise's fortunes. Between 1970-2017, the Chiefs appeared in one AFC championship game. Since ditching their shtick of retread quarterbacks (feat. many ex-49ers) and identifying a superstar, the Chiefs will be the first AFC team to host a conference title game in three straight years. A Dee Ford offside infraction allowed the Patriots to escape Missouri with an overtime win two years ago, but the Chiefs booked their first Super Bowl berth in 50 years last season after initially falling behind the Titans. Chiefs-Bills marks Andy Reid's eighth conference title game; he is 2-5 entering Sunday.
2011-18 New England Patriots
This streak will be nearly impossible to even approach. Running into the likes of Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler and Marcus Mariota in certain Round 2 games helped extend the streak, but the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady Patriots became the most reliable team in NFL history. No one else has made six straight conference title game appearances. Once in the AFC championship round, the Pats went 5-3 and won three Super Bowls during the Brady-Rob Gronkowski years. Last season's loss to the Titans ended this era, and a declining roster sent Brady to Tampa -- where he is again in a conference championship game.
2011-13 San Francisco 49ers
The Jim Harbaugh-Trent Baalke era started quite well, with the coach-GM combo resurrecting a franchise that had not made the playoffs since 2002. Harbaugh rebooted Alex Smith in 2011, leading to a classic 49ers-Saints second-round game, but pivoted to Colin Kaepernick in 2012. While both QBs enjoyed success, defensive consistency (three top-three units) powered these 49ers. They ran into misfortune in the 2011 title game when two Kyle Williams fumbles helped the Giants prevail in OT, and were a disputed pass interference call from the Super Bowl XLVII title. Harbaugh was gone by 2015, sliding the 49ers into a rebuild.
1995-97 Green Bay Packers
In Bad Boy Pistons fashion, the Packers took over after the Cowboys-49ers rivalry fizzled. The Lakers-Celtics-esque series dominated the NFL for years, but the Packers' 1996 Super Bowl champion team was on the level of those Cowboys and 49ers nuclei. The 13-3 team ranked first on offense and defense and beat three playoff squads by at least two scores, routing Carolina in the NFC title game. Brett Favre from 1995-97 is the only player to win three straight MVPs, and he defeated the 49ers by multiple scores in each of these playoffs. Steve Young's masterful throw in the 1998 first-round ended the Favre-Mike Holmgren era, however.
1992-95 Dallas Cowboys
A defining NFL "what if?" spawned when Jimmy Johnson left after the 1993 season. The brash head coach led a rapid rebuild in Dallas, with the 1989 Herschel Walker trade igniting a dynasty. Dallas won at least 12 games from 1992-95, and the Troy Aikman-, Emmitt Smith-, and Michael Irvin-driven squads beat the 49ers in two of the rivals' three NFC championship duels. The Cowboys also eliminated the Packers in three of these seasons, with the Barry Switzer-led squads doing so twice to make the best "Team of the '90s" claim. After Super Bowl XXX, however, the franchise began a steady decline. Aikman and Co. did not make it out of Round 2 again.
1992-94 San Francisco 49ers
The Steve Young leg of the 49ers dynasty produced one of the league's most memorable rivalries, with 49ers-Cowboys viewed as the de facto NFL championship at the time. Young won MVP honors in 1992 and '94, becoming the league's top QB for a few years upon being given the 49ers reins (and the chance to target a still-thriving Jerry Rice) at age 30. Dallas winning this series' first two playoff games led to the 1994 49ers loading up in free agency. Deion Sanders and Co. helped the team stave off Switzer's Cowboys and win a fifth Super Bowl. A loaded '95 team (sans Sanders) could not stop the Packers in Round 2 -- a sign of the NFC's future.
1990-93 Buffalo Bills
Less drama existed on the AFC side in these years. The Bill Polian-Marv Levy duo's moves in the 1980s created one of the most consistent teams in NFL history. Fronted by four Hall of Famers, the Bills took over the AFC. They needed to play in just one wild-card game in this span and turned that day into an NFL-record 32-point comeback. Buffalo won twice with backup QB Frank Reich in the 1992 AFC bracket, but Jim Kelly's crew blew out three of the four teams it faced -- the Raiders, Dolphins, and Chiefs -- in conference title tilts. The 1991 Broncos provided the best resistance, losing 10-7. Super Bowls ... did not go as well.
1988-90 San Francisco 49ers
After a shocking upset loss to the Vikings in 1987, the 49ers wrapped up the "Team of the '80s" debate. Joe Montana held off Young in the Hall of Famers' 1988 QB battle and led a 28-3 romp past the No. 1-seeded Bears to reach Super Bowl XXIII. Equipped with an unrivaled weapon in Rice, Montana won the next two MVPs and did so despite Bill Walsh's 1989 retirement. George Seifert's stacked '89 49ers beat playoff opposition 126-26, crushing the Rams to reach Super Bowl XXIV. This era's 49ers won an NFL-record 18 straight road games, but a narrow home loss to the Giants -- featuring a brutal Montana injury -- ended the NFL's best modern three-peat bid.
1973-77 Oakland Raiders
For conference championship cameos, John Madden's Raiders are the closest thing to the modern Patriots. From 1967-77, Oakland made nine conference title games. However, the team with Ken Stabler and an all-time offensive line often fell short. Intersecting with the Dolphins and Steelers' dynasties, the '70s Raiders made just one Super Bowl berth. They won two named games -- 1974's "Sea of Hands" against the Dolphins and 1977's "Ghost to the Post" in Baltimore -- and went 16-1 in 1976 but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion (the Dolphins or Steelers) three times during this period. Madden retired after the 1978 slate.
1974-76 Pittsburgh Steelers
The best of the "Steel Curtain"-era teams' probably formed in 1978, but the Steelers lived up to their nickname best during a mid-1970s rise. Their five-Hall of Famer defense ruled the AFC for most of this span, helping cover for a less consistent Terry Bradshaw and eventually dominating to the point the NFL made rule changes. No team came within a touchdown of the 1974 Steelers in the playoffs, and Pittsburgh's plus-211 scoring team downed Oakland on an icy day a year later. The Raiders halted the Steelers' three-peat bid but only after the Joe Greene-led defense allowed four TDs during a nine-game win streak to reach that third title game.
1974-76 Los Angeles Rams
QB stability eluded these Rams, but their starting lineups became flush with draftees acquired by trading passers. Blockbuster deals that shipped Roman Gabriel and John Hadl out of town in 1973 and '74 provided balance to defense-fueled squads. The Rams used James Harris, Ron Jaworski, and Pat Haden in these respective playoffs but won one postseason game with each. However, the Cowboys and Vikings employed Hall of Fame QBs (Staubach and Fran Tarkenton) and ran the NFC at this point. Vikes DB Bobby Bryant's banner day stopped the last of these Rams teams, but several holdovers were on the 1979 squad that pushed the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV.
1971-73 Miami Dolphins
Had the NFL implemented its current home-field advantage setup, these Dolphins would have hosted three straight AFC title games. They had the better record against the Colts, Steelers, and Raiders. The perfect 1972 team had to secure a Super Bowl berth in Pittsburgh. Miami built its dynasty through run-game dominance. Buoyed by Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris, the Dolphins led the NFL in rushing from 1971-74. Bob Griese threw 19 combined passes in these three title games; the Dolphins won each. The quickly defunct World Football League raided Miami's roster, poaching Csonka and Paul Warfield, helping to end this dynasty by 1975.
1970-73 Dallas Cowboys
For as celebrated as Staubach's career became, the iconic passer only started seven full seasons. Landry started Craig Morton in 1970, and after turning to Staubach to end a 1971 QB controversy en route to the team's first Super Bowl title, he went back to Morton in '72. Boosted by the additions of Herb Adderley, Lance Alworth, and Mike Ditka, the 1971 team boasted nine Hall of Famers. However, the Cowboys -- even after benching Morton for Staubach during a 1972 divisional-round comeback over the 49ers, whom Dallas eliminated from 1970-72 -- lost to Washington and Minnesota in the latter two NFC title games here.
1965-67 Green Bay Packers
Part 2 of Vince Lombardi's storied Packers run involved the NFL's only playoff-era three-peat. Since the Super Bowl did not exist in 1965, Green Bay's 23-12 win over Cleveland -- in Jim Brown's final game -- counts as a title ahead of its back-to-back Super Bowl triumphs. The Packers beat the Browns despite the latter having a bye of sorts, and Bart Starr's four TD passes drove Green Bay past Dallas and into Super Bowl I. An aging Packer team went just 9-4 and ranked ninth in scoring but survived the Cowboys in 1967's "Ice Bowl." Lombardi retired after Super Bowl II; Green Bay did not make a conference title game again until 1995.
1964-66 Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen and Co. are gunning to give the Bills their first Super Bowl championship, but the franchise does have two AFL titles. The Bills won back-to-back crowns in 1964 and '65. While the AFL was an eight-team league in those years, the latter Buffalo conquest -- a 23-0 win over the Chargers -- marks the most recent AFL or Super Bowl title-sealing shutout. Lou Saban's 1964 team ranked first on offense and defense. The Bills notched three INTs and rode fullback dynamo Cookie Gilchrist's 122-yard rushing day to a 20-7 win. A Hall of Famer-laden Chiefs defense shut down the Bills in 1966, and Buffalo faded in the AFL's final years.
1963-65 San Diego Chargers
Architected by passing-game forefather Sid Gillman, the Chargers began their three-appearance span with one of the most dominant championship performances in sports history. Behind Alworth, fullback Keith Lincoln and MVP QB Tobin Rote, the 1963 team crushed the Patriots 51-10. This turned out to be the only title in Bolts history, but Gillman's team appeared in five of the first six AFL Championship games. Although Alworth totaled 40 TDs during this span, the Chargers ceded their AFL alpha status to the Bills in 1964. Gillman stuck around until the league's 1969 finale but could not lift San Diego to another championship game.
1961-63 New York Giants
Some notable coaches helped restore the Giants as an NFL power in the 1950s, with Lombardi and Landry in place as coordinators. Lombardi left in 1959, Landry in 1960. But 1961 trades for Hall of Fame QB Y.A. Tittle and All-Decade receiver Del Shofner reignited New York's offense, helping the defensive holdovers from the '50s title games secure three more Eastern Conference crowns. However, Lombardi reunions did not go well in the first two championship matchups. And despite Tittle's then-record 36 TD passes in 1963, the Bears beat the aging Giants. They did not make the playoffs again until Lawrence Taylor's 1981 arrival.
1960-62 Houston Oilers
The AFL's first dynasty, the Oilers boasted legit firepower. George Blanda's franchise single-season TD pass record (36) still stands 60 years later; A.J. Brown has serious work to do to catch Charley Hennigan's 1961 receiving mark (1,746 yards). The Oilers thrived in the pass-crazed league by signing ex-Bears QB Blanda out of retirement, and wideouts Hennigan and Bill Groman still reside atop the Oilers/Titans single-season leaderboard. Adding to Houston's loaded offense: ex-Heisman-winning back Billy Cannon, who scored in each AFL title game to key both wins over the Chargers. The Dallas Texans denied the Oilers a three-peat in double overtime.
1960-62 Green Bay Packers
The "Ice Bowl' stretch receives more attention; these Packer teams were better. In 1962, Green Bay went 14-1, outscored opponents by an insane 276 points, led the NFL in offense and defense, and repeated as champion at Yankee Stadium. Lombardi took over the Packers in 1959 and had them in the championship in Year 2. After the Eagles became the only team to defeat a Lombardi Packers team in a title game, Green Bay's Jim Taylor- and Paul Hornung-centered power sweep took over the NFL. The Packers beat the Giants 37-0 in the 1961 title game. Eleven Hall of Famers started for the Mt. Rushmore-caliber '62 squad.
Mike Vrabel savagely tweeted NFL's own rulebook at the league's officiating account to dispute Chiefs replay .
Apparently, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel was spending his free Sunday night watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos face off in the evening matchup. Vrabel's Titans were on a bye. And during Sunday Night Football, he watched as a review of a Travis Kelce incomplete pass — the Broncos thought it was a catch and fumble that would have resulted in a turnover — was upheld. The NFL Officiating account explained that “the third element of a catch – time – was not met. Therefore, the ruling on the field stood as incomplete.” But Vrabel responded with an image from the NFL rulebook with the definition of a catch.