Anticipation

I can remember a few of them. I remember 1999 when the Jaguars came to town in first place and soon to clinch home-field advantage. The Titans tore them up. I remember the sting of the regular-season loss against Baltimore when Trent Dilfer rallied them and Del Greco missed an extra point. I remember McNair not practicing all week, but on Sunday rallying the Titans at the Giants, scoring the game-tying two-point conversion on a QB draw. I remember the comeback to beat the Colts on Monday night in 2008, and the showdown win against the Steelers to clinch home-field. These were big regular season games in Titan history.

Sunday feels bigger. The bye week allows teams to split their seasons, especially the fortunate ones like the Titans that had a bye week exactly in the middle of the season. Last year’s bye week was filled with speculation on the starting quarterback and Jeff Fisher’s job. The second half was as good as the first half was bad. 2008 was more of a “can they hold on?” feeling and they did. This year is different.

Fisher isn’t coaching forever. Chris Johnson has a career average of 5 yards a carry but this year he’s averaging 4.1 and we haven’t seen many of his breathtaking runs this season. Kenny Britt became a star and proceeded to tear his hamstring. Vince Young looks like the franchise QB the team has waited five years for him to become. He’s injured and fans are not sure how many scrambles he can survive.

Enter Randy Moss. We really have no idea how he’ll affect the team. Early returns have been good but that’s mainly based on name recognition. What happens when CJ breaks free and Moss has to make a block on the edge that’s the difference between an eight-yard run and a TD? Is he going to pout if he doesn’t get ten targets in the first half? What will he do?

I had a similar experience in the early 90s when the Chiefs acquired Joe Montana. It was bedlam. Fans wondered if Montana had any magic left. He had a little. He helped the team upset the top-seeded Oilers but was unable to get the team to the Super Bowl. He had flashes, but he was 37 when he signed with the team. Moss is 33. Another supposedly past-his-prime future Hall of Famer in Terrell Owens is the top fantasy receiver this year, so Moss still can do it. We just don’t know. And we won’t get a glimpse until Sunday. That’s what makes this game my most anticipated regular-season contest as a fan of the team.

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