|The Titans will look to stay in the thick of the AFC playoff race when they host the Saints on Sunday.|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans (7-5) begin the final quarter of their season this week, welcoming the New Orleans Saints (9-3), leaders of the NFC South, to LP Field (capacity 69,143). Kickoff is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, Dec. 11.
In 12 all-time meetings between the two franchises in the regular season, the Titans lead the series 7-4-1, including a current four-game winning streak that dates back to 1996. Most recently, the Titans won a Monday night game at the Louisiana Superdome by a final score of 31-14 on Sept. 24, 2007. The Titans and Saints also have squared off in the final week of the preseason in each of the last two years.
With four games remaining on the schedule, the Titans are still in the playoff hunt. They are in second place in the AFC South, trailing the 9-3 Houston Texans, but they also are in the Wild Card chase. Aside from the Texans, the AFC's current division leaders include the New England Patriots (9-3) in the East, the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) in the North and the Denver Broncos (7-5) in the West. Among the Wild Card hopefuls are the Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3), Cincinnati Bengals (7-5), Oakland Raiders (7-5) and New York Jets (7-5). Four division winners and two Wild Card teams advance from each conference.
This week's game will be televised regionally on FOX, including Nashville affiliate WZTV FOX 17. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties, while Troy Aikman provides analysis and Pam Oliver reports from the sidelines.
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.
Additionally, Westwood One Radio Sports will carry the national radio broadcast. Howard David (play-by-play) and Tony Boselli (analyst) will have the call.
The Titans traveled to Buffalo last week and used a pair of touchdowns from running back Chris Johnson, three field goals by Rob Bironas and a pair of fumble recoveries by rookie middle linebacker Colin McCarthy to escape with a 23-17 victory.
Johnson recorded his third 100-yard rushing performance in the last four weeks, totaling 153 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Following up on his 190-yard performance the previous week against Tampa Bay, Johnson reached the 150-yard rushing mark in back-to-back weeks for the second time in his career, and his two-week total of 343 rushing yards is the third-highest of his four-year career.
Since recording his first career start at Carolina on Nov. 13, McCarthy, a fourth-round pick out of the University of Miami (Fla.), leads the Titans in tackles and has two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Against the Bills, he forced and recovered a fumble on one play and added another fumble recovery later in the contest.
Led by head coach Sean Payton, the Saints are in first place in the NFC South and are trying to earn their third consecutive playoff berth. Last week at the Louisiana Superdome, they defeated the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football by a final score of 31-17.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is on a record-setting pace in 2011. Directing the NFL's top-ranked offense (448.7 yards per game), he leads the NFL with 4,031 passing yards, within range of Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 yards at Brees' current rate of 336 passing yards per game.
Brees' primary target this season has been second-year tight end Jimmy Graham. A third-round pick out of Miami (Fla.) in 2010, Graham is the NFL's second-leading receiver with 75 catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns.
TOYS FOR TOTS
Prior to the game, fans are encouraged to participate in the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off with members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve stationed outside the gates at LP Field. All toys collected during the drive will be used in the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program and distributed to children in middle Tennessee.