Titans streak their way into AFC South showdown with Houston

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Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown (55) celebrates with inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard (59) after scoring against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Coach Mike Vrabel told his Tennessee Titans what happens in the second half of an NFL season is what matters most.

They listened carefully.

Not only have the Titans salvaged a 2-4 start to put themselves into playoff contention, they have won four straight and six of seven to tie Houston atop the AFC South. The division rivals play twice in the final three games, starting Sunday when the Titans (8-5) host the Texans (8-5).

’“It’s been good to be able to put ourselves in a position now to focus and concentrate on the Houston Texans,” Vrabel said Monday.

The Titans had some help trimming the gap with Houston after the Texans lost 38-24 to Denver. Tennessee followed up by routing Oakland 42-21 on the road.

“Every game is big for us from here on out,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “There is no looking ahead to anything. It’s one game at a time and take advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of us.”

What’s working

The offense keeps improving seemingly with each game. The Titans are averaging 31.4 points a game since Tannehill became the starter — second most in the NFL in that span. They also have 27 touchdowns over the last seven games, a big jump from the 11 scored through the first six games. It’s why Tennessee now ranks 10th in the NFL in points scored per game.

The Titans averaged 9.36 yards per play against Oakland, the highest single-game average in franchise history and the best for any team this season. That comes two games after they averaged 9.06 yards per play against the Jaguars.

Derrick Henry is second in the NFL in rushing, just 38 yards back of Cleveland’s Nick Chubb, despite being cautious with a sore left hamstring. Henry is tied with Dalvin Cook of Minnesota with 13 TDs rushing.

Tannehill threw for a season-high 391 yards in Oakland, completing a pass to 10 receivers as Tennessee piled up a season-high 552 yards. He leads the NFL with a 118.5 passer rating

“My confidence only grows when I see them make those plays,” Tannehill said.

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