By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — The Titans’ special season continues despite injuries and inconsistencies. They have now won six straight games, with five of them coming against teams that were in the playoffs last season. Their 8-2 start is the best since 2008, and with the 1-8 Houston Texans scheduled to come to town Sunday, their position atop the AFC looks solid. There is even some hope that they may get Derrick Henry back by the tail end of the season.

But most importantly, the Titans continue to find ways to win, and manage to hold on even when they don’t necessarily play all that well down the stretch, which was the case in Sunday’s 23-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Nissan Stadium. They let a late eight-point lead slip away and the Saints scored with 1:16 remaining to close the gap to two points. But the Saints made their own critical mistake by committing a false start penalty before trying the tying two-point conversion. Then the Titans survived when a pass to Mark Ingram at the goal line was incomplete.The Titans recovered the desperation onside kick.

Tennessee also got a huge break because the Saints had a replacement kicker. Brian Johnson was in for Wil Lutz and missed two extra points. There was also a controversial roughing the passer penalty that extended a Titans drive in the first half, negated a touchdown and enabled Tennessee to extend its lead.

Offensively, the Titans got a huge game from receiver Marcus Johnson. He hd five receptions for 100 yards. Tanneheill had 19 completions in 27 attempts for 213 yards and one touchdown. The running game without Henry continues to have problems. D’Onta Freeman gained 30 yards on 11 carries and Adrian Peterson 21 on eight. The Titans also manage to keep winning despite minimal production this week from A.J. Brown and the continued absence of Julio Jones.

Defensively, it was another big week for Jeremy Simmons. His two sacks give him five over the past two games. Saints’ QB Terence Simian completed 19 of 34 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns, while Mark Ingram gained 47 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown and caught four passes for 61 yards. But ultimately it was the Saints’ second straight close loss, leaving them at 5-4.

The Titans have on paper the easiest remaining schedule of AFC contenders, as the collective winning percentage of their upcoming opponents is under 36. Still, the last time the Titans faced a team with a poor record they suffered only their second loss of the year to the Jets. So no one will assume an automatic victory Sunday, even going against a one-win opponent.