NASHVILLE, Tenn. --** Mike Munchak's future with the Titans will be decided once the season ends. Wade Phillips is hoping his work coordinating Houston's defense is good enough to remove the interim from his title and make him the Texans' next head coach.
First, their teams have to wrap up the season.
"Everyone wants to win the last one," Munchak said.
The Titans (6-9) are trying to salvage a second straight losing record by finishing with a two-game winning streak before new president and CEO Tommy Smith decides whether to keep Munchak for a fourth season. A win would give them one more than last year's 6-10 mark and also end the team's longest home skid at five since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.
"There's so much uncertainty in the air right now, so ... my focus and I think everybody else's focus is on this next game," Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2-6 as the starter.
Tennessee at least ended a three-game skid by winning in Jacksonville 20-16 last week for its first win in the AFC South. That victory was enough to clinch second in the weak division for the Titans. Beating the Texans on Sunday would snap a three-game losing string against the franchise that replaced them in Houston, where Smith lives.
The Texans (2-13) haven't won since beating the Titans 30-24 in overtime the second week of this season, far from what the defending two-time AFC South champs expected for 2013. A win would end a miserable 13-game skid that includes a 37-13 loss to Denver last week, but could put the No. 1 overall draft selection next May in jeopardy.
Phillips looks at the Titans and sees a team still playing hard for Munchak. Being an interim coach hasn't been easy with a team he didn't build.
"I've got a pretty good record as a head coach when I've had the team at the start of the season," Phillips said. "I think they'll consider that."
Five things to look for as these AFC South teams wrap up disappointing seasons and start working on 2014:
WARMACK VS. WATT: Call this matchup Take 2. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt got his first two sacks this season when these teams played in September, easily getting the better of Titans rookie right guard Chance Warmack. The 10th overall draft selection talked when drafted of looking forward to playing against Watt, and now Warmack gets his second chance at the defensive end — with the benefit of a full season's experience.
"He's excited about it ..." Munchak said. "He's so much better at a lot of things than he was back in Week 2. That's the fun thing about him. He's excited about challenges. He knows he's a great player like J.J. Watt. You're going to see him at his best. It doesn't matter what the record is."
KEENUM BACK AT QB?: Case Keenum missed last week's game with a splint on his right thumb, and Phillips said a ligament injury kept the quarterback from being able to grip the ball. But Keenum practiced Thursday and could return to the starting lineup. Keenum at least has more touchdown passes (9) than interceptions (6), which is better than what Matt Schaub can say at this point.
WHO'S THIS GUY?: Jonathan Grimes will be the fifth running back to start for Houston in a season in which the Texans currently have 13 players on injured reserve. Grimes was signed Dec. 18 and got his first career carry in the loss to Denver when he finished with five rushes for 23 yards.
PROTECTING THE BALL: The Titans have dropped to minus-3 in turnover margin with only two takeaways in the past four games. That's far better than the Texans have managed. Even though Houston ranks seventh in total yards allowed per game, the Texans have only 10 takeaways all season compared with 27 giveaways for a differential of minus-17.
NUMBERS WATCH: Chris Johnson of the Titans needs 50 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for each of his first six seasons, which would make him only the sixth running back in NFL history to do that. Texans receiver Andre Johnson needs 142 yards to become the first in NFL history with at least 100 catches and 1,500 yards receiving in four seasons.