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Playoffs on the Line When Titans Play at Texans Sunday

Posted Dec 26, 2011

The Titans need a win on Sunday, along with help from Cincinnati and other teams to make the playoffs.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. --Entering the final week of the regular season, the Tennessee Titans (8-7) are still alive in the playoff race.  They travel this week to face the AFC South Champion Houston Texans (10-5) at Reliant Stadium (capacity 71,054).  Kickoff is scheduled for noon CST on New Year’s Day, Sunday, Jan. 1.

Download Game Release (PDF)


This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Bill Macatee will handle play-by-play duties, while Steve Tasker provides analysis.

The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and gameday host Larry Stone.


The Titans are one of four teams positioning for the AFC’s second Wild Card spot—the conference’s sixth and final playoff seed—along with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.  To get there, the Titans must first defeat the Texans, who earned a convincing 41-7 victory over the Titans earlier this season (Oct. 23) at LP Field.  Additionally, the Titans need any one of the following three scenarios to unfold:

Tennessee win Cincinnati loss (vs. Baltimore) New York Jets win (at Miami) Oakland loss or tie (vs. San Diego).  Cincinnati would be eliminated based on conference record, and Tennessee holds the edge over the Jets based on record versus common opponents.

Tennessee win Cincinnati loss (vs. Baltimore) New York Jets win (at Miami) Denver loss or tie (vs. Kansas City).  Cincinnati would be eliminated based on conference record, and Tennessee holds the edge over the Jets based on record versus common opponents.

Tennessee win Cincinnati loss (vs. Baltimore) New York Jets loss or tie (at Miami) Oakland win (vs. San Diego) Denver win (vs. Kansas City).  Cincinnati would be eliminated based on conference record, and Tennessee holds the edge over Oakland based on record versus common opponents.

The sixth-seeded team plays the third seed in a Wild Card Game on Jan. 7 or Jan. 8. The Texans have secured the third seed, no matter the result of this week’s outcomes.  Therefore, should the Titans earn a playoff berth, they will travel back to Houston for an immediate rematch of this week’s contest.  

While the Titans are looking for their ninth win in 2011, they are also trying to reach a historical franchise benchmark.  With 399 all-time victories, including regular season and postseason games, they need one more win to reach 400.  The Titans would become the 20th NFL team to reach the mark. 

All of the franchise’s wins have come under the ownership of one man, K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr., one of the eight founding owners in the American Football League.  Adams’ Oilers began play in 1960, moved to Tennessee in 1997, and took the name “Titans” in 1999. 


In the Titans’ Week 7 loss to the Texans, they fell behind early and were never able to make up lost ground.  The Texans scored 27 unanswered points before quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook for Tennessee’s only score.  Texans quarterback Matt Schaub passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns in leading his team to victory. Meanwhile, running back Arian Foster delivered 115 rushing yards and 119 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. 


This week’s game against the Texans is the Titans’ third consecutive battle with a division opponent. They lost 27-13 at Indianapolis in Dec. 18 and last week won 23-17 in their home finale against Jacksonville.

In the defeat of the Jaguars, Matt Hasselbeck passed for 350 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jared Cook.  That was one of eight catches for Cook, whose 169 receiving yards are the most by an NFL tight end in 2011 and set a new franchise record for a tight end.

Additionally, rookie running back Jamie Harper scored his first career touchdown, and Rob Bironas made all three field goal attempts, including a pair of field goals from 51 yards.  

The Texans clinched their first-ever AFC South title on Dec. 11.  Despite notable injuries this season to defensive end Mario Williams, wide receiver Andre Johnson, and quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, head coach Gary Kubiak’s squad has recorded the best season in the franchise’s 10-year history.
The Texans defense has been transformed this season under new coordinator Wade Phillips, son of former Oilers head coach Bum Phillips.  The unit ranks second in the NFL, allowing only 280.7 yards per game.
Last week, however, the Colts got the best of the Texans in a Thursday-night primetime matchup.  The Colts scored a touchdown in the final minute of play to prevail by a final score of 19-16.

Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, a fifth-round pick who began the season as the Texans’ third-string quarterback, was thrust into the starting lineup after Schaub and Leinart were lost for the season.  Yates, a product of the University of North Carolina, has passed for 902 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions this season.  He has started each of the past four games. 

Yates has the benefit of sharing the backfield with one of the NFL’s top running backs, former University of Tennessee standout Arian Foster.  Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher last season, ranks third in rushing in 2011 with 1,224 yards.  Additionally, second-string running back Ben Tate has gained 845 yards on the ground this year.

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