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Injury-riddled Titans need win for chance at hosting playoffs

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Steve McNair could use some rest to heal his aching left ankle. Five of the Titans' seven receivers are hurt, so Tennessee is scrambling to add bodies to make it through practice.
Unfortunately, coach Jeff Fisher can't give them much of a break.
The Titans (11-4) clinched a playoff berth Sunday when Cincinnati lost to St. Louis, but Denver's victory over Indianapolis opened an opportunity for Tennessee to improve its position from a wild-card team playing on the road to hosting a playoff game at The Coliseum.
"We've got some things to work out right now. Our goal is to win this ballgame we're in," Fisher said Monday. "We also have to keep things in mind for a week from this weekend. It's a delicate situation. But the bottom line is we're going to play to win."
If the Colts had beaten Denver, Fisher could've rested McNair and other ailing Titans against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8) on Sunday because Tennessee's playoff seeding could not have changed.
But if Indianapolis loses on the road at Houston and the Titans beat the Bucs, then Tennessee would win the AFC South and host either the Colts or Broncos on Jan. 3 or 4.
Fisher said he prefers a healthier McNair over a home playoff game.
A Denver victory over Green Bay combined with a Titans loss would drop Tennessee to the sixth and final seed, sending them to Indianapolis for the playoffs.
With a victory, the Titans would clinch the fifth seed and visit either Baltimore or Cincinnati.