The Tennessee Titans entered Sunday's tilt with the Green Bay Packers knowing it was a fork-in-the-road game. Lose and it's the 'same old Titans.' Win and perhaps the playoffs are a possibility.
"We were going to leave it all on the field,'' tight end Delanie Walker said, via the team's official website. "We said we needed to make a statement, and this was a game to make a statement in and I think we did that. We felt like we controlled the game."
All of the consternation following the game was about the Packers falling apart, which partially ignores the fact that the Titans were flat-out the better football team.
When Marcus Mariota plays as flawless as he did in the first half on Sunday, the Titans have a playoff-caliber offense. DeMarco Murray plowed over defenders. The offensive line bulldozed Green Bay, even after left tackle Taylor Lewan was ejected in the first quarter. Walker was unguardable. When he needed to, Mariota found receivers downfield with pinpoint accuracy.
"It is a huge stepping stone,'' Mariota said of the win. "It is getting us in the right direction. There's still a lot of season left, a lot of things we have to go and accomplish. But hopefully we can use this as momentum for the rest of the year."
The AFC South is wide open.
The Texans lead the division at 6-3 but are a flawed product. Sunday Houston won with $72-million quarterback Brock Osweiler throwing for 99 total yards. The Colts boast the best QB in the division in Andrew Luck but own the worst defense. The Jags are the Jags.
Whether or not they make the playoff leap this year or not, Sunday's romp showed the future is sparkling in Tennessee.