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Titans for real? Test with Chiefs will tell plenty

The Titans’ offense is flying high in large part due to a punishing running game led by DeMarco Murray. (Weston Kenney / AP)
The Titans’ offense is flying high in large part due to a punishing running game led by DeMarco Murray. (Weston Kenney / AP)
By Barry Wilner Associated Press

The Tennessee Titans are making believers out of lots of folks.

The idea that they could win the AFC South is very much alive after their Week 14 victory over Denver.

Should the Titans come out of Kansas City with another win on Sunday, the question might become are they good enough to not only make the playoffs, but do damage there?

With Marcus Mariota showing franchise-quarterback temperament and skills, DeMarco Murray leading a running game that averages 144.5 rushing yards per game behind an improving line, and a stingy run defense, Tennessee seems to be arriving a year early as a contender.

“We’ll continue to grow,” Mariota says. “There’s always areas to improve, but I think it’s fun to be around a group that’s growing and learning at the same time. You can see the confidence throughout the locker room.”

That confidence has led to a 7-6 record – Tennessee has won three of four – and a meaningful final month of the year.

“It’s a fun atmosphere to be a part of. This is what you work all year for is to have an opportunity in December to make a run at the playoffs,” Mariota adds.

Not only are the Chiefs (10-3) a factor in the AFC West, they could secure a playoff berth with a win and both Miami and Denver either losing or tying, or Denver and Baltimore or Pittsburgh losing.

Coach Andy Reid’s eyes are focused only on the Titans, who knocked off defending Super Bowl champion Denver last week.

“They’re hotter than a firecracker right now,” Reid says. “They play hard, they know what they’re doing. Their defense, Dick LeBeau is a Hall of Famer as a coach and a player. He’s very good at what he does, and the guys look like they believe in what they’re doing.”

Reid can tie Bill Parcells (183) for 10th on the NFL wins list.

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