Draft or Playoffs: Where Should Tennessee Titans Fans Go from Here?

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COMMENTARY | If you are a Titans fan, I imagine that inside of you there are two separate and distinct parts: the optimist and the pessimist. The optimist is hoping that the Titans can run the table and get to 9-7, which would likely get them in the playoffs. The pessimist on the other hand is rooting the Titans to lose out, end up 5-11, clean house, and hopefully get a top-5 pick in the NFL draft.

With those two mindsets in mind, this is a guide to what each Titans fan should hope for in the upcoming weeks.

The Optimist

The Titans still have a chance in the playoff hunt; in fact, Tennessee is only one win (and change) away from being in the second AFC wild card playoff spot. The current standings have the Titans ahead of all the other 5-7 teams due to head-to-head wins; as long as they keep pace with those teams, they will have the playoff edge. If the Miami Dolphins lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings shock the Baltimore Ravens, all the Titans have to do is beat the Denver Broncos to be in the driver's seat.

OK, so maybe beating Denver is too tough of a task, but the Titans do get their rematches against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans which could result in a 7-8 record. With a win at home against the Arizona Cardinals, the Titans could move into mediocrity and get into the playoffs.

If the Titans do get into the playoffs, they could have a rematch with the Indianapolis Colts, a game where the Titans could have easily won if not for the plethora of blundered opportunities.

A revamped defense and a mercurial offense could make the Titans a trap game for the Broncos and Cardinals, who could be looking ahead to tougher games on their schedule. A win against either of those teams would make the Titans the team to beat for the remaining AFC wild card spot.

The Pessimist

Despite a brief look at what could have been, Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't pull himself away from his desire to complete deep passes and his instincts to try to fit passes into tight windows. Do the Titans have a shot at the playoffs? Yes, but why would they even try at this point?

If the Titans did make it to the playoffs, they would have to play Denver, Kansas City or Indianapolis; by the end of the year it is likely that all of those teams will have already beaten the Titans once.

The Titans are 4-12 in divisional play with Mike Munchak at the helm, and that should be unacceptable for the new owner. It is time to make sweeping changes in the coaching room and find new personnel. Every win the Titans steal from this point on, is a win that hurts them in the long-run.

When thinking about head coaches, the Titans need to take a long, hard look at David Shaw from Stanford and Bill O'Brien from Penn State. Both are coaches that could fit the "hard-nosed" mentality that Titans ownership wants to employ in the future.

Firing Jerry Gray is an easy call because it will open the door for Gregg Williams to officially be the DC. Williams has had a clear impact on a defense that has gone from one of the worst in the league to a great asset.

With a high cap number projected for 2014, look for players like Kamerion Wimbley, David Stewart, Craig Stevens, and Ryan Fitzpatrick to get cut. Those moves would save the Titans an estimated an estimated $23.7 million combined. That number doesn't include another $10 million that the Titans could have off the books if the parted ways with former star running back Chris Johnson.

In terms of top draft picks, Titans fans should also be watching linebacker C.J. Mosely, who is the top prospect at his position. Also on the Titans watch list should be quarterbacks Derek Carr (Fresno State) and Marcus Mariota (Oregon), who are likely to be the second and third QBs off the board. While offensive tackle isn't a major need, names like Jake Mathews and Taylor Lewan could prompt the Titans to go back to the well at offensive line. Any of these players could make a big difference for Titans in 2014 and they are all positions of need for the Titans.

Will Lomas is a lead blogger for draftseason.com and a staff writer for SBNation's Tennessee Titans website Music City Miracles. Will is also the sports editor for the Tennessee Journalist, the University of Tennessee's online news source.

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