At 4-4, the Tennessee Titans are one game behind the New York Jets for the final Wild Card spot with eight games left to play.
The Titans put themselves in position to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008, and their success comes from one of the NFL’s top defenses. Seventh overall in total defense, the secondary leads the league with a mere seven touchdown passes allowed, and the Titans are fourth in the AFC with a plus-six takeaway ratio.
And for fantasy owners they could be a sleeper defense for the rest of the season. Tennessee has two games left against the meek Jacksonville Jaguars -- including Week 10 -- two more against Indianapolis and Andrew Luck, one against Arizona's Carson Palmer and his tendency to throw interceptions this year, one more game against reeling Houston, and only one absurdly difficult game against Denver.
The Colts games would be a red flag, accept Tennessee was able to pick off Luck three times last season and even though both games were losses, one came down to the fourth quarter and the other went to overtime. The Titans were really a play or two away from being 2-0 against the rising superstar, and this year’s defense has played far better than last season's 27th ranked squad.
Defensive back Alterraun Verner is tied for the league lead with four interceptions and second with 13 passes defended this year, and veteran safety Bernard Pollard is tops on Tennessee with 53 combined tackles. Jacksonville quarterbacks have tossed 12 picks compared to four touchdowns this season, so expect a good number of fantasy points off turnovers for the Titans in Week 10.
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If the Titans are already taken in your league, the four teams below may also deserve a look.
Hosting Houston this week, Arizona last came up with four interceptions against Atlanta’s top passer Matt Ryan and should be refreshed off the bye week. Safety Rashad Johnson had two of those interceptions, and clearly has fully recovered from his nasty severed left middle finger.
New York Giants
A laughingstock for the first six weeks of the season, the Giants have allowed two touchdowns in their two straight victories, while forcing six turnovers and five sacks. New York is also ninth overall against the run, and their Week 10 opponent Oakland has little faith in injured quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s arm.
Tough to pick a team that just gave up 55 points, but the Steelers face a Buffalo squad that will likely start rookie EJ Manuel, who hasn’t played in four straight games due a knee injury. The Steelers are still eighth in total defense, and fourth against the pass.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs nearly picked up their first victory of the season against one of the NFL’s best teams in Seattle. Tampa Bay forced three turnovers, but fell short by letting up 20 straight points in the second half and overtime. In Week 10, they meet a disarrayed Miami club, that’s coughed up 15 turnovers and a league worst 35 sacks.