The Green Bay Packers will begin their three-game road trip on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. The Packers (4-4) will take on the Tennessee Titans (4-5) in a noon matchup in Nissan Stadium. Following a 3-1 start to the season, the Packers found themselves on the losing end in three of their last four games, including back-to-back losses against the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts, respectively. The Titans, showing improvements on last year’s 3-13 finish, have equally struggled to find consistency this season.
To each team’s relief and despite mediocre records at the midway point of the regular season, both the Packers and Titans find themselves within reach of their respective division leaders. The NFL rewards division winners, regardless of records, by guaranteeing them a spot in the postseason, along with a home game in the Wild Card round.
The Minnesota Vikings sit atop the NFC North with a 5-3 record, followed closely by the Detroit Lions, who at 5-4, will have an open date this weekend. At 4-4, Green Bay finds themselves only a game out of first place. Even the Chicago Bears, thanks to upsetting the Vikings prior to their open date last weekend, have a chance to make a late season run, despite a 2-6 record.
The AFC South’s top spot currently belongs to the Houston Texans, who are now 5-3. The Titans and Indianapolis Colts share identical records of 4-5 while the Jacksonville Jaguars are alone in last place with a record of 2-6.
The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans are not familiar regular season opponents. Since the Titans’ formation in 1960, known then as the Houston Oilers of the American Football League, they have only played the Packers 11 times in the last 56 years. The Oilers spent their first 10 seasons in the AFL before the league merged with the NFL in 1970. In fact, the Oilers won the first two AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961. They found themselves losing in double-overtime in the 1962 AFL Championship to the Dallas Texans, who are now the Kansas City Chiefs.
Interestingly, the AFC South leading Houston Texans only came to existence because of the Houston Oilers moving to Tennessee to become the Tennessee Oilers in 1997. The team nickname was changed from the “Oilers” to the current “Titans” in 1999. That same season saw the Titans earn their first Super Bowl berth, a 23-16 defeat to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
In the 11 matchups between the Packers and Titans, Tennessee holds a 6-5 advantage. Since the inaugural contest in 1972, a 23-10 Green Bay victory, the Packers and Titans competed no more than once in a three-year span or more. The current NFL schedule rotation ensures that all teams in the league will compete at least once in a four-year span. Green Bay beat Tennessee, 55-7, in their previous contest in 2012.
Both head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers expect to ramp up the team’s energy this Sunday in hopes of making a push for the postseason in the second half of the regular season.
Justin Skiba is a local educator and former high school football coach. He lives in Sturgeon Bay with his wife, Stephanie, and daughter, Delaney. Justin has a strong interest in history and sports.