The Tennessee Titans will be watching the playoffs from home for a fifth consecutive season.
Their struggles against fellow AFC South foes are a big reason why.
Seeking its first division win, Tennessee tries to avenge last month's loss to the injury-plagued Jacksonville Jaguars, who are set to honor veteran center Brad Meester in his final home game Sunday.
The Titans (5-9) have gone 1-9 within their division since the start of last season, including 0-4 in 2013. Tennessee, which fell 30-24 at Houston on Sept. 15 and was swept by Indianapolis, also suffered a shocking 29-27 home loss to previously winless Jacksonville on Nov. 10.
"You wonder why they're motivated? They're motivated for a lot of reasons to win this football game. It's a pride thing now," said coach Mike Munchak, whose team hosts Houston in Week 17.
"We got to finish with two here. It does mean a lot for that reason. You're battling for second in the division I guess or whatever that comes to at the end. We got to beat a team that has given us trouble."
The Titans matched a season high with four turnovers against Jacksonville last month, including three lost fumbles. Tennessee has dropped four of six to the Jaguars.
"We did everything we could to lose that football game by turning it over and still were down by two," Munchak added. "We owe them for this year, last year, the year before that."
Jacksonville (4-10) could come out with added emotion as the team recognizes Meester, who on Wednesday announced he will retire at season's end. The blue-collar lineman played his entire career in Jacksonville and is one of only five active players to spend at least 14 seasons with the same team.
Maurice Jones-Drew, in the last year of his contract, could also be making his final appearance in front of Jaguars fans. The former All-Pro running back, though, is uncertain after sitting out last Sunday's 27-20 loss to Buffalo due to a hamstring injury.
"You never know," he told the team's official website. "You just want to go out there and put your best foot forward, you want to go out there and show your best."
Jacksonville will be without Cecil Shorts, who was placed on injured reserve due to a groin injury. Shorts leads the team with 66 catches and 777 receiving yards.
The Jaguars committed a season-high four turnovers against the Bills as their three-game winning streak was snapped. Chad Henne completed 21 of 36 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"It was a game of missed opportunities," coach Gus Bradley said. "We didn't play like we're capable of playing, whether it was a fumble, interception, things like that. In the locker room, our hearts are broken right now because of this, but I felt like our spirit is not."
The Titans are coming off last Sunday's 37-34 overtime loss to Arizona, dropping to 1-5 in their last six. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for a career-high 402 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, the second of which set up the Cardinals' game-winning field goal in OT.
Tennessee trailed by 17 with just over three minutes to go in the fourth quarter before storming back.
"Nobody on this team wants to lose," tight end Delanie Walker said. "Just because we're not going to the playoffs, you don't throw the games away. You go out there and fight. We're going to fight for our coaches. We're going to fight for each other."
The Titans surrendered 145 yards and two more scores on the ground. Tennessee, giving up 119.1 rushing yards per game, has also allowed 20 TDs to rank 31st in the league.
That sets up well for Jordan Todman, who is expected to carry the load again if Jones-Drew can't go. The second-year back ran for 109 yards in his first career start last weekend and added four catches for 44 yards.
The Jaguars are 2-13 at home since the start of last season, with one of them a 24-19 victory over Tennessee on Nov. 25, 2012.
The Associated Press News Service
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