It’s a funny thing, the structure of the NFL. Arriving in London for the second game of the league’s International Series this weekend, are a Los Angeles Chargers side that have been quietly impressive, beaten only by the two best sides in the league, and a Tennessee Titans outfit who have been inconsistent and offensively blunt.
Yet if the season finished tomorrow, the Titans would walk away with a divisional title and the Chargers would not.
Despite not having a winning record, the Titans sit top of the AFC South, after a 3-3 run that would not even be good enough for second in any of the conference’s three other divisions.
Their aforementioned inconsistency is highlighted by the fact that two of their wins have come in the fixtures that, at the start of the season, looked most daunting.
The momentum earned through narrow victories over last season’s Super Bowl champions – the Philadelphia Eagles – and the divisional champions – the Jacksonville Jaguars – has largely evaporated with back-to-back defeats, a one point deficit against the struggling Bills, and a 21-0 shutout against the Ravens on Sunday.
Put simply, they don’t score enough points. They average fewer than 15 per game, the third worst in the league, and nobody has scored more than one touchdown this season.
Corey Davis is their only reliable receiving option, with 385 yards; but to put that in perspective, the league-leading LA Rams have three guys with more than 400 yards (two of them 500+) and even their running back, Todd Gurley, has more than the Titans’ second-best wideout.
Speaking of the Rams, that’s where the Titans looked to solve their offensive woes in the off-season, bringing in coordinator Matt LeFleur, but so far he hasn’t been able to turn this ship around.
It might help if they offered their quarterback a little protection though – Marcus Mariota was sacked a franchise record 11 times last week.
The Chargers meanwhile are 4-2, trailing the 5-1 Chiefs in the AFC West, but arrive in London on a three game win streak – although given those triumphs came against the Browns, Raiders and 49ers, no one is getting too excited yet.
Future hall of famer Philip Rivers is still under centre at 36 years of age and has 15 touchdown passes already this season, behind only Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck in the league-wide standings.
Perhaps the star of the show, though, has been running back Melvin Gordon.
Only Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley have more rushing yards than Gordon, and he’s also weighed in with more than 250 yards as a receiver.
On the other side of the ball, first-round draft pick Derwin James has been outstanding, with 36 tackles, three and a half sacks and an interception in the first six weeks of his NFL career.
This will be the franchise’s first trip to London as a Los Angeles team, having been based in San Diego when they lost to the New Orleans Saints at Wembley back in 2008.