NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans know their postseason hopes have dwindled to slim and almost none. So they're looking back three weeks for extra motivation to avoid the franchise's longest losing streak since 1994.
And no, the revenge the Titans want to exact from the Houston Texans doesn't involve the brawl between Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The memory of being shut out 20-0 in Houston on Nov. 28 with Chris Johnson held to a career-low 5 yards on seven carries stings more than enough.
"We definitely want to get them back for that," Titans tight end Bo Scaife said.
These teams have been playing each other only since 2002, but being AFC South division rivals has steeped emotions between the team that left Houston and the franchise that replaced the Titans. Now the Texans, who have won three of the past four, can sweep the season series for only the second time and first since 2004.
"I don't like to use the word hate, but I'm not really sure how much the Texans and the Titans like each other," Houston cornerback Glover Quin said. "I'll leave it at that."
Both Houston (5-8) and Tennessee (5-8) remain alive for the postseason, which ends the instant Jacksonville wins one game in the final three weeks. Promising seasons have disintegrated with the Titans blowing the division lead with their slide, while the Texans have lost six of seven.
All this losing has put job security for both Jeff Fisher, the NFL's longest-tenured coach with Tennessee, and Houston's Gary Kubiak at risk. Fisher's trying to salvage his third 8-8 record in the past five seasons and avoid a losing mark for the first time since 2005.
"We haven't been eliminated," Fisher said. "There are some things that can happen out there, and if everything goes well this weekend, if we're fortunate to find a way to win and we get help then we're still alive."
Fisher at least had a few extra days for his Titans to rest up after losing 30-28 to Indianapolis on Dec. 9. Kubiak is trying to rally the Texans after a 30-28 overtime loss Monday night to Baltimore after his team came back from a 21-0 deficit. It doesn't help that the Texans have to travel on a short week.
"I wish we could play about every other day and get this taste out of our mouth," Kubiak said.
For the Texans, defensive end Mario Williams' season ended when he was placed on injured reserve with a sports hernia.
"We just keep on going," Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said. "It's unfortunate to lose a guy like that, and he's battled with it the whole year and has played tough. It's unfortunate, but we got to keep going."