NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans (2-13) conclude the 2014 regular season this week at home against the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts (10-5). Kickoff at LP Field (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, Dec. 28.
The Colts locked up the division crown in Week 15 and are guaranteed to host a playoff game on Wild Card Weekend. They will be either the fourth seed or third seed (currently fourth) in the AFC playoffs.
The Titans are looking for their first win against the Colts since 2011. The Colts have taken each of the past six battles in the series, including most recently a 41-17 decision on Sept. 28 at Lucas Oil Stadium.The Titans are 14-26 all-time against the Colts.
This week's game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy and analyst Adam Archuleta will call the action.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.
TITANS LOOK TO END SEASON ON WINNING NOTE
The Titans are hoping to reverse their recent fortunes and cap the season on a winning note. They have 10 days to prepare for the finale after last week's Thursday Night Football appearance at Jacksonville, where despite a strong start against the Jaguars they were sent home with their ninth consecutive loss.
It appeared early as though the Titans might be in position to celebrate an end to their drought by evening's end. They marched 84 yards on 12 plays during their opening drive, which culminated with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Whitehurst to Leon Washington. A field goal in the second quarter put them ahead 10-0.
The Titans defense seemed poised to handle the Jaguars' attack as well. They hushed the partisan crowd by forcing four consecutive punts to open the contest, allowing 16 total yards in the process.
However, the Jaguars limited the Titans to only a field goal the rest of the way. The momentum swung before halftime, with the Jaguars scoring their first of three unanswered touchdowns. Jacksonville's 177 rushing yards helped offset Tennessee's advantage in several other categories, including time of possession (34:52 to 25:08) and total yards (357 to 288). When it was over, it was the Jaguars reveling in a 21-13 victory and an escape from last place in the AFC South.
Whitehurst, a veteran of nine NFL seasons, was the Titans' third starting quarterback in as many weeks. The other two—rookie Zach Mettenberger (six starts in 2014) and Jake Locker (five starts)—were lost in successive weeks with shoulder injuries. In his fourth start of the season, Whitehurst completed 24 of 35 pass attempts for a career-high 287 yards and a touchdown without throwing an interception (102.9 passer rating).
The Colts traveled to Dallas last week and found an unwelcoming host in the Cowboys. Tony Romo's five touchdown passes and two interceptions by the Cowboys defense led a 42-7 final score.
Despite the loss, the Colts already had clinched their third consecutive playoff berth and second consecutive AFC South title under head coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano was hired in January 2012, and since that time, the Colts have built a 32-15 record in the regular season.
Like Pagano, quarterback Andrew Luck is in his third season in Indianapolis. The former first-overall draft pick was named to the Pro Bowl after each of his first two campaigns, and this year, he joined Dan Marino and Peyton Manning as the only players to pass for 4,000 yards in two of their first three campaigns. His 38 touchdown passes lead the NFL in 2014 (through Sunday, Dec. 21).
This week's game will mark the 41st all-time contest between the Titans and Colts. The Colts lead the series 26-14.
The Colts currently own a six-game winning streak over the Titans, including both encounters in 2012 and 2013. The last time the Titans won was Oct. 30, 2011.
In the first meeting of 2014, played on Sept. 28 at Lucas Oil Field, the Colts overpowered the Titans by a final score of 41-17. Andrew Luck passed for 393 yards and four touchdowns, while the Colts defense forced three turnovers.
The last time the teams met at LP Field was Thursday night, Nov. 14, 2013. The Titans established a 17-3 lead in the first half of that game, but the Colts stormed back with 20 unanswered points and eventually won by a final score of 30-27.
The 2013 rematch was played only two weeks later at Lucas Oil stadium (Dec. 1). In that matchup, the Colts used four takeaways from their defense and five field goals by Adam Vinatieri to vanquish the Titans 22-14.
The Titans and Colts have met only once in the postseason, a 19-16 Titans victory in a Divisional Playoff game in the RCA Dome on Jan. 16, 1999. Eddie George rushed for 162 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run to help lead Tennessee during its run to Super Bowl XXXIV.
The teams first clashed in 1970 following the AFL-NFL merger. The then-Baltimore Colts defeated the then-Houston Oilers 24-20 during the Colts' run to a Super Bowl V Championship.
The Tennessee Titans battle the Indianapolis Colts in a Week 4 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)