The Tennessee Titans return to Nissan Stadium Sunday to face a familiar opponent, and I’m not talking about the Green Bay Packers…
I’m talking about desperation.
The Titans have been on month-long desperation tour as their last three opponents entered the contest with their backs against the proverbial wall.
The first leg of the tour started at home when Tennessee hosted a desperate Indianapolis Colts team three weeks ago. The Colts were reeling heading into that game, losing four of their first six games.
A loss in Nashville that day would have all but ended Indy’s hopes for a division title and playoff berth, and the Colts played like it on both sides of the ball.
A struggling Andrew Luck went into a time machine, and reminded the Titans that he has never lost to them with a vintage Luck-like performance. The Colts squeaked out a 34-26 victory to keep their season alive.
The desperation tour continued four days later when the 2-4 Jacksonville Jaguars came to town for their annual primetime matchup under the Thursday Night lights.
This time the hosting team was less accommodating. The Titans jumped out to a 27-0 lead before the Jags could catch their breath, and won 36-22 after resting their star players for much of the fourth quarter.
It was Tennessee’s most complete performance of the season.
From there the tour hit the west coast, where the desperate San Diego Chargers awaited them.
After squandering leads in three of their five losses, the Chargers could ill-afford to drop another one to the Titans, especially in the ultra competitive AFC West.
And like Andrew Luck, San Diego qb Philip Rivers reminded the Titans that he has never lost to them at home.
The Chargers’ offense had one of their their best days of the season, and the defense chipped in two scores of their own in route to a 43-35 victory in one of the most entertaining games in the NFL this year.
This Sunday will be no different when the tour returns to Nashville for an early afternoon tilt with the suddenly desperate Green Bay Packers.
After being a consensus preseason pick to run away with the NFC North title this season, the Packers find themselves at 4-4 and losers of three of their last four games.
They also find themselves looking up at the Minnesota Vikings (5-3) and Detroit Lions (5-4) in the division standings, and a loss to the Titans Sunday would not only put their quest for a division title in serious jeopardy, but their playoff hopes all together.
Packers qb Aaron Rodgers lit into his team following last week’s stunning home loss to the Colts, and most national prognosticators feel that a now-angry Packers team will take their frustrations out on the boys in two-tone Titan blue Sunday.
But at 4-5, and in danger of falling further behind the division leading Houston Texans, the Titans should consider themselves just as desperate after squandering their own chances to take control of their playoff destiny.
Yes, the Titans are playing with house money right now after eclipsing last year’s win total in just eight games this season, but if they are to make a real playoff push (which is a realistic goal), then they must find their own sense of desperation.
And they must find it Sunday against Green Bay.