This time, the Jaguars can do it to the Titans.
The Titans have seemingly always delivered a crushing blow to the Jaguars hopes.
- They did it to the Jaguars most memorably in the 1999 AFC title game; they kept the Jags out of the Super Bowl.
- The Titans scored an upset win in Jacksonville in 2004. It was a loss that kept the Jaguars out of the playoffs.
- They did it to the Jaguars again in 2006, with a win in Nashville that started the Jaguars on a three-game losing streak that knocked the Jaguars out of playoff contention.
- Most recently, the Titans scored a 30-3 win in Jacksonville on Monday Night Football, which left the Jaguars battered and embarrassed.
Always, seemingly, the Titans have ruined the Jaguars' season. Sunday, in Nashville, the Jaguars will have an opportunity to return the favor.
At 5-6 and a game behind the Jaguars and Colts in the AFC South title race, the Titans' backs will be to the wall at LP Field on Sunday. This is a must-win game for the Titans.
"It's who can figure out a way to win the most games, protect the football, run the football, play good defense," coach Jeff Fisher said, describing the tenets of December football in the NFL. "I think it's going to come down to the team that's the healthiest at the end."
The Titans lost their starting quarterback, Vince Young, to a much-publicized and controversial thumb injury a couple of weeks ago. It's believed Kerry Collins will be healed enough from his calf injury to be the Titans' starter against the Jaguars. Fisher said on Wednesday that Collins was still not 100 percent.
"What team is going to kind of take hold of this thing?" Collins asked of the three teams at the top of the AFC South standings. At 6-5, the Jaguars and Colts are tied for first place. The Texans might have sealed their fate on Thursday by losing to the Eagles and falling to 5-7. That's what the Titans need to avoid.
Any hope the Titans have of making a late-season charge to the division title would seem to rest with Collins. The Titans have the schedule – four of their remaining five games are within the division – to make a charge; do they have the quarterback?
"That's something I'm looking forward to. I've played a lot in this league. I'm preparing as hard as I can and trying to go out Sunday and run this offense and get a win," Collins said.
Mostly, Collins will be handing the ball to star running back Chris Johnson, who's rushed for 973 yards. Collins' main role will be as a field general and a third-down converter.
"So much has to do with his experience. He can prepare as a starter during the week and have success; he's done that for us for many games. Or he can prepare as a backup, knowing it's a play away, and come off the bench and have success. That's a tribute to him. He loves this game. He loves coming to work and wants to play and wants to play well. I can't say enough about what he's done for us in the past few years," Fisher said of Collins.
The Titans' fate would seem to be in Collins' hands, and you might say it's in the Jaguars' hands, too.