Unbeaten Titans win in blue-collar fashion

Michael Silver
Yahoo! Sports

Seven games into a special season that came out of nowhere, Jeff Fisher has carved himself a little slice of coaching heaven.

As the Titans' longtime coach said earlier this month, "I've got a defense that can put it on you, and a veteran quarterback who knows what to do and when to throw it away. I can run it, and I've got a kicker who can kick it through the uprights and into the end zone. I couldn't be happier."

In other words – and this might come as a shock – Fisher isn't trying to win anyone's fantasy football league.

If you're wondering why the Titans, the NFL's sole remaining undefeated team, haven't aired it out like the '07 Patriots or the '04 Colts or the '99 Rams or the '98 Vikings, it's because Fisher doesn't want to play that way. The former Bears safety wants to subdue opponents with a physical, fundamentally sound, high-percentage approach, and he's secure enough in his team's ability to pull out close games that blowouts aren't a part of the blueprint.

If his team happens to score 25 consecutive second-half points against the Colts, as the Titans did Monday night in a 31-21 triumph over Indy, far be it from Fisher to argue. He's perfectly comfortable with unheralded players like Stephen Tulloch, Nick Harper, Chris Hope and Ahmard Hall playing starring roles.

Speaking of comfort, take a look at the AFC South standings after seven games. Last year, this division sent three teams to the playoffs, with Tennessee sneaking in on the final Sunday. This year, the Titans (7-0) own a four-game lead over the Colts (3-4), Texans (3-4) and Jaguars (3-4), each of whom they've already defeated.

In other words: Go ahead and start printing those cheesy "AFC South Champions" T-shirts.

Looking further ahead, Tennessee is two games up on the Steelers, Bills and Patriots in the race for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. It's a long season, but if the Titans can retain their current level of intensity, we might soon be speculating about when Vince Young will return to the lineup – to rest Kerry Collins for the playoffs.

Did anyone see that coming? Yeah, right.

Now for the rest of our questions, beginning with Fisher's future division champs and ending with Rod Marinelli's hopelessly lost Lions.

1. Tennessee Titans: Think Jeff Fisher knew what he was doing when he fired offensive coordinator Norm Chow and replaced him with Mike Heimerdinger?

2. New York Giants: After I finally mastered the spelling and pronunciation of Osi Umenyiora's name, doesn't it seem cruel that Mathias Kiwanuka has emerged as a productive pass rusher?

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Is it fair to say that after what he experienced on Sunday, Mike Tomlin will take the backup long-snapper role a bit more seriously?

4. Washington Redskins: How crazy is it that Jason Campbell has gone half a season without throwing an interception (and didn't lose a fumble until his eighth game)?

5. Carolina Panthers: When people try to come up with early MVP candidates, doesn't Jake Delhomme at least belong in the discussion?

6. Buffalo Bills: Like the previous week's victory over the Chargers, was Sunday's defeat to the Dolphins also a "statement game" – and if so, was the statement, "Our secondary has issues"?

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: When all is said and done this season, how damaging will that stretch of four defensive penalties at the end of Sunday's first half turn out to be?

8. Green Bay Packers: Does this explain why a certain defensive tackle is so Jolly?

9. Dallas Cowboys: Knowing Jerry Jones as I do, would you believe me if I told you that to the owner, Roy Williams' pivotal touchdown catch in Sunday's huge victory over the Bucs pretty much justified the steep price of acquiring him?

10. Chicago Bears: Hey, Lovie, miss Ron Rivera much?

11. New England Patriots: Why is Jarvis Green hiding inside teammate BenJarvus Green-Ellis' name?

12. Arizona Cardinals: What are the odds that Ken Whisenhunt and his assistants will stress tackling in practice and meetings this week?

13. Philadelphia Eagles: If Brian Westbrook can somehow stay healthy, can this team make a run?

14. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Jones has got to make that catch at the end of Sunday's game, right?

15. Atlanta Falcons: How tortured did Mike Smith look when he realized his absence of timeouts left him powerless to challenge that highly dubious muffed-punt call?

16. Denver Broncos: Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the Ryan Torain Show?

17. Minnesota Vikings: If defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams both receive four-game suspensions will Brad Childress become more unraveled than Robin Williams?

18. New Orleans Saints: Is it just me, or did Drew Brees cut it a little close on that intentional safety at the end of Sunday's game?

19. Baltimore Ravens: How cool was that 43-yard Troy Smith pass to Joe Flacco – and how funny was it that John Harbaugh referred to it as the "Suggs Package"?

20. Indianapolis Colts: With all due respect to that impressive blowout victory over the Ravens a couple of weeks back, can we officially acknowledge that this team is in trouble?

21. Miami Dolphins: Will Wayne Huizenga's desire to sell his share of the Dolphins before the start of a potential Obama administration make Dolphins fans more or less likely to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate next week?

22. Cleveland Browns: How bummed are Browns big-wigs that an employee sent the most expensive text messages in NFL history?

23. New York Jets: Is ESPN allowed to report that Brett Favre has thrown 11 interceptions, tied with J.T. O'Sullivan for most in the NFL this season?

24. Houston Texans: On the strength of their first three-game winning streak, can these guys make a playoff run, after all?

25. San Diego Chargers: As the season degenerates and the pass rush remains invisible, how much money is Shawne Merriman making by not playing?

26. St. Louis Rams: What was more macho: Jim Haslett's decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 41 on the Rams' opening drive in Foxborough on Sunday, or his onside-kick call to start the second half?

27. Seattle Seahawks: Did the 49ers get the license plate of the the Church Van that ran them over on Sunday?

28. Oakland Raiders: Is there any doubt that this Davis will soon be playing for that one?

29. San Francisco 49ers: If I told you that Mike Nolan sent a good-luck text message Sunday morning to Niners GM Scot McCloughan, the man who'd just fired him, would your opinion of him rise?

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Did Brandon Flowers spend some time on the phone with Packers coach Mike McCarthy last week, or am I just imagining things?

31. Cincinnati Bengals: If the 49ers are interested in hiring Condoleezza Rice as team president will Mike Brown place a call to Donald Rumsfeld?

32. Detroit Lions: It really took this long for Lions fans to start finding other things to do with their Sundays?

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