The Tennessee Titans head into Sunday’s game with a mission of needing to win their game against the New York Jets to keep whatever ever playoff hopes they have alive.
Though the scenarios are still varied and the Titans do need some help at 8-6 to crash the AFC playoff party, this much is known: A Tennessee loss on Sunday clinches a postseason berth for Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville and leaves the Titans on the outside looking in for a fourth straight season.
Last season, the Titans needed nothing short of a miracle in the season’s final week to force their way into the playoffs. They got exactly that, except for one small problem — they didn’t take care of their own business, and were throttled 40-23 at home by a New England Patriots team that had little to play for in the regular season’s final game.
As it was, the Titans sat at home and watched the Kansas City Chiefs claim the last AFC berth. So will the Titans pay attention to the Cleveland-Cincinnati game which should be finished soon after the Titans and Jets kick off at 3:15 p.m.?
“We’re not thinking about that scenario right now,” quarterback Vince Young said. “Like last year we were thinking about it so much, that’s probably what happened, and we lost the game. Right now, guys are just taking it a game at a time and being patient.”
This year, the Titans need to win their final two games and have Cleveland or Pittsburgh falter once against an AFC opponent, or have Jacksonville lose its final two games.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher is hoping to use last year’s lesson learned as motivation to keep his team focused on its own task at hand Sunday at LP Field.
“The last week of the season last year, I told them that all four things were going to happen, we just needed to win. Several of them, I guess, didn’t believe me,” Fisher said. “So I told them I had the same crystal ball in my office, and I will bring it out next week. We must find a way to win this game.”
Titans center Kevin Mawae said he hopes the coach’s crystal ball forecasts a playoff berth for Tennessee.
“He mentioned it, and hopefully, it’s been polished with Windex and he sees pretty clearly,” Mawae said. “I think the guys on the team understand the point he’s trying to make. We have an opportunity to get in the playoffs, and it starts with this game. It actually started last week, and [we have to play like] we control our own destiny.
“We can’t worry about what Cleveland is doing. We need to win our games. If we win both of our games, we give ourselves a good [shot].”
Mawae, finishing up his 14th NFL season recalled when he played for the Jets having to play a waiting game, and said a Browns loss Sunday could ignite the Titans. But even if that doesn’t happen, Tennessee must take care of its own business first.
“In New York a few years back, we needed the Patriots to lose, and we found out [that they did] during the game, and guys got juiced up,” Mawae said. “Regardless of the Cleveland game, there are still other scenarios that can play out. We have to control what we can control.”