NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Miscues have sent the Titans and Colts into unfamiliar territory.
The only two teams who have ever won an AFC South title since the division's creation in 2002 have stumbled in the second half of this season.
Tennessee and Indianapolis were both 5-3 at the midpoint of their schedules, but the Titans came off their bye week and lost four straight and the Colts have dropped three in a row. Jacksonville (7-5) controls its own destiny toward the division title this season.
The Colts have recorded double-digits in wins each season the AFC South has existed, but continuing that streak will require Indianapolis to win out. The Titans have recorded double-digits in wins four times (2002, 2003, 2007, 2008) since the division's creation. That feat can no longer be duplicated this season, but the possibility of a winning season still exists if the Titans sweep their final four.
Although off-season signee Will Witherspoon is new to the Titans-Colts rivalry, he said he can see the intensity in the locker room this week.
"I don't think I need to worry about who's talked about the rivalry," Witherspoon said Tuesday. "I can see it. You can see that these two teams are at the throats. You really want to see what kind of game it's going to be. I think every single year it's a back-and-forth, up-and-down challenge."
Tennessee (5-7) has lost five straight games and two in a row at LP Field, but three of its final four games are against divisional foes. The Titans must boost their scoring offense, which ranked best in the NFL earlier this season and has slipped to 16th. The Titans rank last in the league in time of possession (25:32), 31st in first downs (14.8 per game) and 30th in yards (291.6 per game).
Injuries at quarterback are one factor that's led to lack of continuity on offense for Tennessee, which has used three different starting quarterbacks the past three weeks and scored three of its four lowest point totals this season in that span.
Vince Young started Nov. 21 against Washington and suffered a season-ending thumb injury. Rookie Rusty Smith relieved Young against the Redskins and started for the first time on Nov. 28 at Houston. Sixteen-year NFL veteran Kerry Collins started Sunday against Jacksonville, his first action since injuring his calf Nov. 14 at Miami.
Collins, who went 14-for-32 for 169 yards and threw two interceptions against the Jaguars, said the Titans' offense is on the brink of connecting.
"It's unfortunate," Collins said. "We're so close. You look at film, and there's so many things we could have done, not only with Randy (Moss). That's the frustrating part of it."
Indianapolis (6-6) ranks last in rushing yards per game (79.1) and rushing yards per play (3.5), but the Colts lead the league in passing yards a game (303.3). The Colts also lead the NFL in first downs per game (22.9) and scoring percentage when they reach the red zone (70.73 percent).
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has stayed healthy, but the team has 16 players on injured reserve, including tight end Dallas Clark, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez and defensive back Bob Sanders.
Teams have tried to play keep away from Manning in the past, but recently they've taken the ball from him.
In the past three games—all losses by the Colts—Manning has thrown 11 of his 15 interceptions this season. The 11 interceptions are more than Manning threw in entire seasons in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Manning has completed 105 of 148 passes for 1,046 yards and thrown eight touchdowns as the Colts have averaged 25.7 points in the past three games in spite of the turnovers.
Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan said the Titans will prepare for Manning's sharpness to be high, but will also try to force and capitalize on miscues.
"He's a winner, great quarterback, Hall of Famer," Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. "He may be pressing. He loves throwing touchdowns but he's got a lot of guys in his face too. That's why he's had some bad throws. Other than that, he's a great quarterback."