Any chance of a walkover win for the resurgent New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome probably went by the wayside Tuesday morning.
Reports surfaced early out of Nashville that Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk pulled the plug on coach Ken Whisenhunt, proving once again that NFL stands for Not For Long.
Not that Whisenhunt distinguished himself in his 23 games at the helm in Music City. His record -- 1-6 this season, 3-20 overall -- speaks for itself. Under his watch, there certainly was nothing to remember about the Titans.
That said, it wasn't as if Whisenhunt inherited a perennial playoff contender from the previous coaching staff headed up by Mike Munchak, who was fired after the 2013 season after going 22-26 in three seasons.
Titans assistant head coach/tight ends Mike Mularkey takes over as interim coach.
So now, the 4-4 Saints, winners of three straight games and four of their last five, should be on high alert Sunday.
They should expect to get the Titans' best shot, if nothing else intimidating looks from their game captains at the pre-game coin toss. The Titans may be 1-6 and mired in a six-game losing streak, but they'll likely have extra pep in their collective step because of the sudden coaching change and the return of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota after missing the past two games with a sprained knee.
On paper, Tennessee appears to be a potentially dangerous road dog, that, if taken lightly, could jump up and bite the Saints where it hurts the most -- on the scoreboard and in the standings.
The longer Tennessee hangs around Sunday, the more dangerous they
could become. Keep in mind, the Titans are playing in the AFC Gone-South, the weakest division in the NFL where the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans currently share the top spot with 3-5 records. The Jacksonville Jaguars are in hot pursuit at 2-5.
The fact that no team has seized control in the division may have entered into Strunk's decision to fire Whisenhunt now and not wait till season's end. She may be sending a message to her team -- "Somebody has to win the division. Why not us?"
Stranger things have happened.
Seattle won the NFC West in 2010 with a 7-9 record, then shockingly eliminated the visiting 11-5 Saints in a wildcard game.
Carolina won the NFC South in 2014 with a 7-8-1 record, a half-game ahead of the self-destructive Saints who huffed and puffed to reach 4-4 then lost three straight at home to San Francisco, Cincinnati and Baltimore and finished 7-9.
A year later, the Saints have an opportunity to atone for those mistakes, beginning Sunday against the Terrible Titans.
After working hard to overcome a 0-3 and 1-4 start to reach the .500 mark for the first time since Week 9 of the 2014 season, the Saints can ill-afford to lose more ground to Carolina (7-0) and Atlanta (6-2) in the NFC South.
The Titans may be circling the wagons. But the Saints should circle a W next to Tennessee and move on down the road.
Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at email@example.com.