Have you ever experienced a situation where you swear you’ve been there, seen that, or heard that before?
That’s called Deja vu.
The Tennessee Titans must be feeling that way as they prepare to return, weather permitting, to EverBank Field to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend.
On December 24, 2016, the Titans…all decked out in colorful Christmas suits…entered EverBank field with their division title and playoff hopes in their own hands. Win the last two games and they’re in.
Jacksonville had long been eliminated from playoff contention, and most people (including myself) were already making plans to attend the coronation game against Houston at Nissan Stadium the following week.
Well, as Titans fans painfully recollect, the Jags had other plans.
Tennessee was manhandled by Jacksonville that day, and to add injury to insult, Marcus Mariota was lost for the rest of the season.
That loss eliminated the Titans from the playoffs.
Fast forward to today and the Titans find themselves in a similar situation.
Tennessee’s loss to Oakland coupled with Jacksonville’s beat down of Houston last Sunday makes this matchup as close to a week 2 must win game as you can have.
The Titans can ill-afford to fall two games behind Jacksonville this early in the season, not to mention falling to 0-2 in the AFC. Conference record is one of the determining tie-breakers should that issue arise in December and January.
More importantly, the talk all offseason was improving their record within the division. A Jacksonville win on Sunday would move them to 2-0 in the AFC South with wins over two teams that were picked to finish ahead of them.
With no Andrew Luck the Colts appear to be penciled-in wins if Sunday’s performance against the Rams is any indication. Giving Jacksonville that kind of cushion with two games to be played against Indy leaves little room for error over the last 14 games.
And let’s be honest, Tennessee has a daunting task ahead of them next week as the perennial playoff bound Seattle Seahawks come to town. 0-3 would be a disastrous start and history shows that it is esentally a death knell in any team’s playoff hopes.
But if the Titans handle their business against the Jags this weekend (or whenever it’s played) then they still control their own destiny, regardless of next week’s outcome.
The goal here is to not have to scoreboard watch in the third week of September.
Now, of course the season isn’t over if Tennessee is 0-2 this time next week, but it would be hard not to imagine wide-spread panic setting in over a fan base with such high expectations for the season.
In that regard, a Deja vu weekend in Jacksonville should be good for the Titans, because they know all too well now to not take the Jaguars for granted.
Plus, a little payback is always a great motivation factor.