Titans hope to follow Packers' path to playoffs ... and beyond

Monday, December 26, 2011 at 6:07pm

Think the Tennessee Titans are green with envy over the Green Bay Packers’ situation? Think again.

Sure, the Packers have nothing to play for in the final week of the regular season. They guaranteed themselves homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with Sunday’s victory over Chicago Bears, weeks after they had clinched a spot in the postseason.

The Titans, on the other hand, need to win and have several other games go their way in order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

That being said, Tennessee’s players and coaches see a lot of similarities between their situation and Green Bay’s — Green Bay’s from a year ago, that is.

“You look back at what Green Bay was able to do last season, and coach [Mike] Munchak talked about it last week, they didn’t win their division,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “They were a team that had lost a couple games, but they found a way to come together as a team. They started clicking. They got hot.

“They took it all the way to the Super Bowl and they kept it rolling into this year.”

The Packers finished the 2010 regular season with back-to-back victories (45-17 over the New York Giants and 10-3 over the Bears) and earned the second NFC wild card. They won three straight playoff games on the road and finished with a 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

They did not lose again until a little more than a week ago.

The Titans (8-7), who play at Houston (10-5) on Sunday (noon, CBS), are not ready to declare themselves Super Bowl contenders or at the start of a 19-game win streak. Forced into a situation where they need to win their final two games just to have a chance, though, that bit of recent league history provided a measure of optimism.

They kept hope alive with Saturday’s 23-16 victory over Jacksonville.

“We talked last week about Green Bay and how they needed to win their last two games last year, plus they needed help,” Munchak said. “They didn’t control their own destiny. They went on to win [19] games in a row or so.

“I think a lot of people forgot that — the situation they were in last year with two games left. It worked out for them. So that’s a nice story here.”

The last time Tennessee was in a comparable situation was in 2006.

It entered the final week of that season at 8-7 and needed a victory as well as losses by Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Denver. All three of those teams lost, but so did the Titans, 40-23 at home to the New England Patriots.

“Most people probably thought the chances that would happen were slim and none,” Munchak, an assistant coach at the time, said. “If we had won against New England, it would have happened. As it turned out, a lot of things happened that weekend that we would have been in if we had won our football game.

“That’s a good example of why you just win your football game and don’t worry about everything else. You have no control over a lot of that other stuff. … I think guys are smart enough to know how important this game is for a lot of reasons.”

There are three scenarios by which Tennessee makes the playoffs this year. All three involve a win over a Houston, a loss by Cincinnati and at least two other results to go a certain way.

It hardly is an ideal situation, but it does offer possibilities of much more.

“We’re in this thing and all we care about is that we have to win,” Munchak said. “We have to go 9-7. … We can’t control anything else than that. … It adds that excitement when you’re still in the conversation going into the last week of the season.

We can all wish it was easier and we controlled our own destiny and all those things but it’s not. … We have a chance to go 9-7 so let’s go do that and see what happens.”

3 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 12/27/11 at 5:13

This writer must have been laughing as he wrote this article.

By: T-BONE on 12/27/11 at 9:16

What the Titans need is for BUD ADAMS come to town, descend from heaven and FLIP some more of his magic F-U birds! ( I want my children to learn valuable lessons from a RICH BIG FAT TEXAN )! Bud can also look over his free "Colosseum" and pick up another boat load of money and haul it back to Texas! (GOD'S chosen state)!...lol

By: fdanshep on 12/27/11 at 10:56

Obviously, i hope it all falls into place but even if it does, getting into the playoffs doesn't mean that you are a "playoff team". This team has exceeded expectations but needs to make a lot of improvement over the off-season. For one, the offensive line is (or at least was going into the season) one of the most overrated O-Lines in the NFL. They need to determine where the problem is and if it is coaching, make a change. If it is personnel, draft, sign a free agent or trade for some quality lineman. I believe it is a combination of coaching and motivation as I think they have the ability for the most part.