Titans can clinch AFC South title with victory vs. Browns

Actually, a few years and counting.

Now the Titans can clinch their first title since 2002 in a division dominated by Indianapolis the past five seasons with a win on Sunday over the Cleveland Browns (4-8), and Bulluck is ready to pounce.

"That's what we're aiming for. This opportunity hasn't come by this organization for some years. We need to go ahead and make the most of it," Bulluck said.

The Titans (11-1) also could clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs by beating Cleveland combined with a New York Jets loss as part of their chase for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. It's something Tennessee hasn't done since 2000, when the Titans had the NFL's best record. Bulluck sees no margin for error.

"It's still a tight race. We're sitting atop. The way we look at it, as long as we win, everything should take care of itself," the linebacker said.

For Cleveland, this matchup would have been better at the end of the 2007 season. Browns fans were furious that Tennessee grabbed the AFC's final playoff spot away from Cleveland by beating Indianapolis with Peyton Manning resting most of the game.

Since then, the teams have gone in different directions. The Titans are looking for their 15th win in 16 regular-season games after surviving a season-opening injury to Vince Young by calmly switching to veteran Kerry Collins.

The injury-plagued Browns have lost four games by four or fewer points, including last week's 10-6 loss to Indianapolis, and come in on a two-game skid and with losses in four of the last five. Browns coach Romeo Crennel joked he could ask the Titans for a couple of spare players, but playoff expectations are gone.

"It hasn't developed the way we wanted it to develop, so everybody's a little disappointed," Crennel said. "It gets kind of blown out of proportion a little bit more than say if we hadn't won those games last year and the people that thought we weren't any good, then they'd say, 'OK, those guys are not any good but they played hard."

Crennel has spent the past few days prepping Ken Dorsey for his first start since Nov. 27, 2005 against Tennessee. Dorsey is Cleveland's third starting quarterback in as many weeks after season-ending injuries to Brady Quinn and then Derek Anderson. Dorsey won't have Cleveland's top pass catcher with tight end Kellen Winslow sidelined by a sprained ankle.

Browns running back Jamal Lewis, who accused some teammates of quitting a month ago, said they remain upbeat.

"Things didn't end up the way we wanted. But at the same time we, still have games left and we still have to finish strong. That's it," Lewis said.

Cleveland also signed Bruce Gradkowski on Tuesday, and he will be Dorsey's backup. Joshua Cribbs, who played quarterback at Kent State, also has a few plays designed for him at quarterback, not that Crennel wants to wear out his top special teams player.

"We're not going to put too much of a load on him," Crennel said.

Lewis likely will be Cleveland's top weapon, and he's only 102 yards short of 10,000 yards rushing for his career. But never ran for 100 yards in seven games against Tennessee while with Baltimore, and he has averaged a measly 2.2 yards per carry in his past three games.

Now the Titans are giving up 97.2 yards rushing per game and coming off a 47-10 win at Detroit in which they allowed only 23 yards. Lewis pinned his struggles against Tennessee on one player: tackle Albert Haynesworth.

"You try not to let him land on you, but a guy like him, that's how he wears the running backs down and that's how he wears his opponent down, is tackling them and probably falling on them and pushing up off of them when he gets up," Lewis said.

The Titans want to come out strong even if they can't repeat what they did at Detroit, where they led 28-3 early in the second quarter. Collins only keeps getting better with six touchdowns against only one interception over the past four games, but the Titans will try to run again after racking up 292 yards in Detroit.

Rookie Chris Johnson is 42 yards from joining Earl Campbell and Eddie George as the only rookies in franchise history to run for 1,000 yards. LenDale White is tied with Michael Turner for the NFL lead with 13 TDs rushing, and Cleveland is giving up 141.3 yards per game on the ground.

Coach Jeff Fisher has been telling his Titans to focus more on winning Sunday and warning them the Browns remain dangerous.

"Obviously, we know what's at stake. It certainly will be a great opportunity to do it here at home in front of the fans," he said.

One step at a time.

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