Well Tennessee Titans fans, I have some good news and some bad news…
The bad news: The Titans squandered their cushiony lead in the AFC wild card race and now have to beat a couple of 10 win teams in the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars to secure a playoff spot (without any help).
The good news: Both games are at Nissan Stadium where the Titans have been tough to beat lately…
Regardless of the opponent.
Tennessee’s recent two game road trip was supposed to be a west coast playoff coronation with wins over the inferior Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
In reality, the trip was anything but after the disaster in the desert and the bad day by the Bay.
And now, in a must-win game, the Titans host one of the hottest teams in the league in the 10-4 Rams…who bludgeoned the Seattle Seahawks last week in impressive fashion.
Underdogs and outmanned at several positions, the Titans are hoping that their newfound home field advantage is enough to even the scales.
Tennessee is currently riding a five game win streak at Nissan Stadium, and are winners of 10 of their last 12 at home dating back to last year.
More importantly, the Titans’ recent success at home didn’t come solely against the sisters of the poor, either. Quality playoff-caliber teams have been served L’s at Nissan Stadium with equal frequency.
Last season the Titans knocked off the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans at home, two teams that advanced in the playoffs last season.
They also knocked off the defending champion Denver Broncos at Nissan Stadium late in the year in a game that essentially ended their reign. They finished the season 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs just like the Titans.
Nissan Stadium has been unfriendly to playoff-caliber teams this year as well.
Tennessee defeated the 8-6 Seattle Seahawks earlier this year, and did so against a healthy Legion of Boom. Six weeks later they defeated their old nemesis, the 8-6 Baltimore Ravens. The victory gave the Titans the all-important head to head tiebreaker over Baltimore with two games left to play.
Another encouraging sign for Titans fans: The often-inconsistent offense seems to find it’s stride in front of the home crowd. Tennessee is averaging 28.8 points per game in their last ten home victories.
Lifelong Titans fans remember how loud and rambunctious the stadium was throughout the glory years of playoffs past. Their last home game against the Texans reminded some of what used to be, while introducing others to what once was….and could be.
There was a sequence in the waning moments of the game when Houston’s left tackle was called for three consecutive false starts, thanks in large part to the crowd noise.
Several players, as well as coach Mike Mularkey, commended the fans for making a difference…citing it as the loudest the stadium has been since they arrived in Nashville.
It will take that type of support again from the home crowd to help get a team with a fragile psyche over the hump, and a much-needed victory to keep their post season hopes alive.
After all, home for the holidays is supposed to be a good thing.