After the Tennessee Titans' 20-13 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card game, much of the media focus was on how the Patriots lost the game and possibly their grip on their dynasty. However, lost in all of that was the story of the team that beat those Patriots, a team that early in the season looked like they would miss out on the playoffs.
Now the Tennessee Titans may be the most quietly dangerous team in football, and it may be too soon to write them off as cannon-fodder for the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens when the two teams square off in the divisional round next week.
The Ravens' obvious advantage is an offense led by presumptive NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, coming up against a Tennessee pass defense which hasn't put up a truly exceptional performance against a top-tier quarterback this season. Even their regular-season-ending win over the Texans came when A.J. McCarron started for Houston, and in an upset win over Kansas City, it was no thanks to their defense - Patrick Mahomes still threw for 442 yards.
But don't forget that the Titans have an offensive weapon of their own in running back Derrick Henry, who led the league with 1,540 yards rushing. Against the Patriots' number-one ranked defense, Henry unleashed his full potential, rushing for a Titans postseason record 182 yards and a touchdown. The Baltimore Ravens also possess a top-five defense, but the run isn't their strong point - they finished 21st in rushing yards per carry allowed.
While Ryan Tannehill didn't have his best game at quarterback against the Pats (8-of-15 for 72 yards), he still made his best throws when it mattered most, including a key 11-yard completion to Anthony Firkser late in the fourth quarter that helped run time off the clock and ice the game.
The Titans' success defending Tom Brady last night should give them confidence heading into Baltimore. Brady and Jackson could not be further removed in style of play, but a victory in a hostile environment such as Foxboro - where no opponent had won a playoff game since 2013 - proves that Tennessee is not a team to sleep on.