Down but not out.
That is the mantra for the Tennessee Titans who at 4-6 find themselves still part of an ugly chase for the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoffs.
After a short week last week, the Titans had a few extra days to rest and prepare for a must-win game at Oakland, against a Raiders team that is also 4-6 and still somehow in playoff contention with a losing record.
With the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins both 5-5 and tied for the final playoff bid, the Titans and Raiders are two of six teams just a game behind in that chase with six games remaining in the regular season.
“The good thing is there was a good part of this, and we started this thing out the way we hoped we would. We’ve been in every game we’ve played in,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We have to find these next six ways to finish with Ws, but I think it keeps the energy going that at least you still know that you control what happens here to some degree.
“If you run the table, you’re going to be in the playoffs. That’s how it’ll be. That’s easier said than done, no doubt, but that just shows you a lot of teams are going through the same issues we’re going through.”
The reins of the offense is now in the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who makes his fourth start of the year and second since Jake Locker was lost for the season with a foot injury. Fitzpatrick is confident that the Titans locker room still believes it can right things and make a run at the postseason.
“It's hard sitting there at 4-6 with a couple of late losses, it's tough to ,kind of maintain that high. But we've had great practices, and we've got a very professional group of guys that are here and willing to go out there and put the work in. That's half the battle right there,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we see that it's still within reach somehow, someway. 4-6 doesn't look horrible right now maybe has it has in years past maybe where some teams are in terms of that last wild-card spot. But we've got to stack some wins together. We've got to go to Oakland and beat a tough team on the road, but there's still plenty of belief in this locker room.”
Fitzpatrick said the Titans have to just take a one-game at a time approach for the remaining six weeks of the regular season.
“We've got to get this train back on the track and headed in the right direction. It's really a one-game mindset right now,” Fitzpatrick said.
Munchak said the Titans still have the opportunity for the taking, but they have to get on a roll over the remaining weeks of the season.
“Someone has to rise up like we’ve talked about. Every year there’s a team that’s going to come out of this thing in the AFC for that wild card spot,” Munchak said. “You kind of have to lay that on them of why not us. It starts this weekend, and you can only win one at a time. So, you better start concentrating on one at a time. All efforts are on that. We understand it, and we need to go in and play better.” We can't allow our past to dictate our future. We have to take it one game at a time.”
Linebacker Moise Fokou returned to practice as he tries to make his way back from strained knee ligaments. Fokou was injured in the Seattle game and has not played since. He could be on track to return against the Raiders.
Center Brian Schwenkie worked in limited fashion on Wednesday as he tries to come back from a high ankle sprain.
Receiver Damian Williams did not practice and looks like he could miss another week with a hip injury.
Quarterback Jake Locker underwent surgery Wednesday to repair the Lis Franc injury to his right foot.