Titans Still Hopeful of Making Playoffs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pride isn't the only thing the Titans are playing for in their final three games.

Despite Sunday's 22-17 loss against New Orleans, Tennessee still has a shot to make the playoffs.

The best thing — meaning the path that requires the least help from other teams — the Titans (7-6) can do is win at Indianapolis (0-13) Sunday, defeat Jacksonville (4-9) on Dec. 24 and win at Houston (10-3) on Jan. 1.

"We've got three (division games) in a row," defensive end Dave Ball said. "I'm looking forward to them because I think our team showed a lot of heart (Sunday). I don't think at the beginning of the year we could have come back like we did. But it showed a lot of toughness."

Tennessee trailed New Orleans 22-10 with 7:01 left in the game. The Titans were without starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and leading receiver Nate Washington was playing through a high ankle sprain. Rookie QB Jake Locker hit Washington for a 40-yard touchdown with 5:58, and moved Tennessee to the New Orleans five-yard-line with five seconds in the game. Locker couldn't locate a receiver in the end zone, however, and was sacked on the final play.

"This was like a heartbreaker, but only if you let it," Ball said. "We've got three games left. We've got three (teams) we know, and we have to crank up the dial.

If Tennessee does win out, it still needs the New York Jets (8-5) to lose a game. Cincinnati (7-6) and Oakland (7-6) are also in the mix, but Tennessee would win the tiebreaker if there is a three-way tie with the Jets, Bengals or Raiders.

If Cincinnati wins out and finishes in a two-way tie with Tennessee, it holds the edge because the Bengals defeated the Titans on Nov. 6. Cincinnati finishes the season at St. Louis (2-10), and at home against Arizona (6-7) and Baltimore (10-3). The Jets visit Philadelphia (5-8), host the New York Giants (7-6) and visit Miami (4-9).

Oakland hosts Detroit (8-5), visits Kansas City (5-8) and hosts San Diego (6-7) in its final three games and could still win the AFC West, depending on what Denver (8-5) does against New England (10-3), at Buffalo (5-8) and against Kansas City (5-8).

The Texans clinched their first AFC South title with a comeback win against Cincinnati Sunday. Although Houston prevented Tennessee from accomplishing that preseason goal, it provided assistance to the Titans' chances for a Wild Card spot.

"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy pushover game," Titans safety Michael Griffin said of the contest against the Saints. "But like (Titans coach Mike Munchak) said, these are games that when you go to the playoffs, these are the type of games you are going to play. It's not an easy walk in the park. To make it to the playoffs, you have to win games like these throughout the regular season."

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