At 4-4 and with divisional games upcoming, the Tennessee Titans have a chance to propel themselves into the thick of the AFC playoff picture.
The Titans could be vying for at least a wild-card spot, already having wins over the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers in hand, but also still have the AFC South leading Indianapolis Colts in range, standing two games back, but having two meetings remaining against Indy. One of those is a Thursday night prime time game at LP Field on Nov. 14.
But first things first. If the Titans fancy themselves as a playoff contender, they have to take care of business this Sunday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The woebegone Jaguars are 0-8 and haven't really been competitive in any of their eight losses thus far. They have alternated between embarrassment from Chad Henne and embarrassment from Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and the offense has produced just 86 points all season, while allowing a mind-boggling 264.
Tennessee is a 13-point favorite, according to Las Vegas. But the Titans know that they, of all teams, can ill afford to take the Jaguars lightly, despite their many problems.
After all, the Jaguars were one of the NFL's worst teams a year ago, going 2-14, and one of those victories came courtesy of the Titans.
“The Jaguars only won two games last year, and we were on of those two,” cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “You can't take anybody lightly. We've got to go out there and play, no matter who we're playing.”
The Titans know all about giving a winless team its first tally in the win column. Two years ago, they were battling for a wild-card playoff spot, and traveled to Lucas Oil Stadium to face a terrible Indianapolis Colts team that had lost Peyton Manning for the season. The Titans promptly gave the 0-13 Colts their first victory of the season, and in the process, probably cost themselves a playoff spot.
“You're not really scared (that you will give them a win), but there have been times like when we played at Indy two years ago, they were 0-13 and they beat us. We can't overlook anybody.”
Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh says his approach the Jaguars won't be any different than the preparation for any other team.
“I can't speak for anybody else, but I don't get on alert, because I approach every opponent the same. The way I look at it, it's all about us, the Titans,” Sensabaugh said. “If we go out there and handle business, that's all we can control. It's a faceless opponent every week. You're only guaranteed 16 games in the NFL and you work 300-plus days to get ready for those, so every day is a big day, no matter whether you're playing a team that is undefeated or has no wins.”
Coach Mike Munchak indicated Monday that safety Michael Griffin should return to practice and be in line to play Sunday against Jacksonville. Griffin missed the first game of his seven-year NFL career on Sunday with a quadriceps injury.
The Titans are hopeful that David Stewart can get back in the lineup after missing Sunday with a shoulder injury. Stewart has also battled calf and ankle injuries this season.
Linebacker Moise Fokou, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, continues to be a question mark for the Titans.