The Tennessee Titans are not ready to give up hope that they can make the playoffs.
They’re 4-7 as they head into Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans at LP Field (noon, CBS). Eight AFC teams have better records and three others have the same mark.
Tennessee has not won more than two in a row since early last season and the best they can do is finish 9-7. As recently as last season, though, the Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs with that exact record.
“We’re not technically out of it at this point,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “It’s not outside the realm of possibilities to try and go win five games. Our focus just needs to be a week at a time — do everything you can and prepare in a way that gives you and opportunity to win on Sunday.”
The last time the Titans won five in a row was 2009, after they started 0-6. They finished 8-8 that season.
The last time the franchise made the playoffs with a 9-7 record was 1990.
“Obviously, right now, we know we have to win them all,” coach Mike Munchak said. “We’re playing to win them all. That’s obviously something hard to say when we’ve been so inconsistent this year. That’s our philosophy. That’s our thinking.”
• On the verge: In stark contrast to the Titans, the Texans are one of three AFC teams that can clinch a playoff spot with a victory this weekend. In fact, Houston needs only a tie to reach the postseason whereas the other two, New England and Denver, must win outright to secure their spots.
“Every team is going to give us their best shot because of the situation we’re in as a team,” Houston quarterback Matt Schaub said. “… Just trying to go out and get another win and that sense of urgency just fuels us.”
If Tennessee wins, the Texans still can make it based on what happens with Miami, Pittsburgh and/or Cincinnati.
• Well wishes: Jack Pardee, who preceded Jeff Fisher as coach of the Houston Oilers, has been told he has less than a year to live and plans to move to a hospice facility in Colorado, according to reports earlier this week. Pardee has been diagnosed with gall bladder cancer, which has spread to other organs.
“What a great guy, a great family,” Munchak said. “I worked with him my first year [after retiring as a player]. … I’m going to have to, hopefully, get a chance to see him or talk to him, but yeah, that’s a shame.”
Munchak’s final four seasons as a player were under Pardee, who coached the Oilers from 1990 through the first 10 games of 1994. That period influenced Munchak’s approach to his current position.
“With him being an ex-player, when he was standing in front of us and speaking, I think I really enjoyed his stories,” Munchak said. “… I think that helped me when he would kind of stand up in front of us and relate something to back in the day when he played. That was something that stuck with me … and that technique was something I’ve used with players as the line coach or as a head coach, that type of style where the players like hearing about the guys that came before them.”
Pardee’s record with Houston was 44-35. He led the team to the playoffs four straight seasons.
• Injury report: Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, who missed four games this season with an ankle injury, was one of three Titans who did not practice. He was held out with a concussion sustained in Sunday’s loss at Jacksonville.
“We have to wait and see how he feels later in the week,” Munchak said.
Defensive end Derrick Morgan (knee) and special teamer Patrick Bailey (ribs) were the others who did not participate. Running back Jamie Harper (ankle) and wide receiver Damian Williams (hamstring) were limited.
• Roster move: The Titans signed running back Lennon Creer to the practice squad.
He takes the place of Darren Evans, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Evans was on the practice squad for the first 10 games, was signed to the active roster last week and sustained a hamstring injury against Jacksonville.
Guard Kyle DeVan, waived last week to make room for Evans, was re-signed Tuesday. It was the fourth time this season the Titans signed him.
• Briefly: Chris Johnson needs 93 yards to pass Ernest Givins (8,280) for third place on the Oilers/Titans all-time yards from scrimmage list. Ahead of Givins are Eddie George (12,153) and Earl Campbell (9,292). … Houston has won a franchise-record five straight road games, the last four by seven points or fewer. … Since the start of 2010, Houston running backs have produced a league-high 25 100-yard performances. The Titans are one of four teams tied for second with 16.