It is well known that things happen in threes so — at first blush — it makes sense that the Tennessee Titans are one of three AFC South teams that opened the 2012 season with a loss.
After one game, in fact, half of the NFL’s eight divisions either have three winners or three losers. For a Titans to be a part of that number means that they currently only have one team to catch in their pursuit of a division title.
The thing is, though, that not all losses are created equal. Too often, a lot of win-loss records are — as is the case currently — identical after 16 games have been played. Then tiebreakers come into play.
Recall that Tennessee missed out on the postseason a year ago because it lost a tiebreaker to Cincinnati.
With that in mind, the Titans’ Week 1 defeat was worse than either Indianapolis’ or Jacksonville’s. Those teams lost to opponents from the NFC (Chicago and Minnesota, respectively). The Jaguars also kept it close — three points to be exact. The Colts lost by 20, which was one fewer than Tennessee’s margin of defeat.
Conference record and point differential are two of the tiebreaking criteria that rank near the top of the list. The former, in particular, often comes into play.
Looking at those numbers, therefore, it is hard to imagine a worse start for the local franchise.
A look at other notable numbers in advance of Sunday’s game at San Diego (3:25 p.m., CBS):
4 — teams that had 32 rushing yards or fewer in Week 1. The Titans and Chargers comprise half of that group. San Diego had 32 yards, tied with New Orleans for the third-lowest total of the week. Tennessee was next-to-last with 20 yards.
5 — consecutive games in which running back Chris Johnson has failed to score a rushing touchdown. That is the longest such streak of his career. He went four straight in 2009, beginning in Week 3, and again in the first four weeks of last season.
7 — straight victories by San Diego in regular-season meetings between the team. The last time Tennessee won a game in the series was Sept. 27, 1992, when they were the Houston Oilers. The combined score of those seven games has been 207-107 and the margin of defeat has ranged from one point (18-17 in 1993) to 33 points (40-7 in 2006).
8 — teams that attempted 40 or more passes in Week 1, including the Titans. Jake Locker threw 32 times and Matt Hasselbeck added 11 after Locker was injured. Six of those eight teams, including the Titans, lost their games.
9 — teams that scored just one touchdown in Week 1 (every team had at least one). Two of those nine are the Titans and Chargers, but San Diego was one of two one-touchdown teams (Tampa Bay was the other) that won its opener.
13 — points scored by the Titans in their opener. It was their lowest Week 1 point total since 2009 when they lost 13-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That year they lost their first six games and scored more than 17 points just once over that stretch.
70 — percent completion rate, which San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has exceeded three times in four career games against Tennessee. Rivers was 25-for-35 (71.4 percent) in 2006, 21-for-27 (77.8 percent) in 2009 and 27-for-36 (75 percent) in 2010.
200 — career receptions by Johnson, who had a team-high six last Sunday against New England. He is the 13th player in franchise history but just the second running back (Eddie George with 259 was the other) with at least 200 catches.