NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The reasonable ask for the 2017 Titans was a playoff berth.

For the Titans to go from 3-13 in 2015 to 9-7 but out of the playoffs in 2016 to 9-7 and in the playoffs in 2017 is undoubtedly progress.

No matter how you feel about the style and scheme of a team heading to Kansas City and the fifth seed in the AFC to take on the Chiefs on Saturday and no matter what the Titans do there, this season qualifies as a success.

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IMG 5455NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The building currently known as Nissan Stadium had never before hosted a win-and-in regular-season finale.

The New Year's Eve playoff-qualifying victory was another ugly game for the Titans, 15-10 over the Jaguars.

But it got the job done.

And for several players who'be been in the league for a good while, it marks a great personal moment as well as a great team one.

My video report:

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mistakes were mounting, including a big one he was in the middle of -- a fumbled handoff returned for a TD.

At their best this season, the Titans had shown resilience and ability to withstand and overcome.

Carrying a three-game losing streak and with monstrous stakes, it seemed a lot to ask, for this team to revert to form and find a way, again.

But with the Titans clinging to a 15-10 lead, the guy they fervently believe in, put them on his back and made the two plays they needed to survive.


The result is the first playoff berth for the Titans since 2008, and a Saturday game in Kansas City, the first of the 2017 postseason.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While not producing enough points last week against the Rams, the Titans heavy use of no-huddle looked like a better fit.

Marcus Mariota is a more lively quarterback when he’s running the quicker offense that puts him more in control.MariotaEscapeBAL

But Derrick Henry, who will be the team’s lead running back with DeMarco Murray (knee) out for Sunday’s crucial game, is not a guy the Titans have leaned on in that style of offense.

At all.

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pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If you're like me, I know the final regular-season mailbag of 2017 makes you exceptionally sentimental.

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Thanks to Pickers Vodka for sponsoring this post and all my broadcasts. You really should grab a bottle for you and take another with you to the New Year's Eve party you're attending. That's what I will be doing. Drink Responsibly.

Remember this from Nov. 6 as we await Sunday afternoon's kickoff for the Jaguars-Titans rematch.

On to the mail, where we'll start out with some questions from Facebook, where you should like my page if you have not already.

Drue Jolly What is the likely attendance on Sunday given the weather and recent performance?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota doesn’t have anything to prove Sunday against the Jaguars, Mike Mularkey said.

The broad point is, the Titans believe in him as their starter now and moving forward.

But in the context of this season, Mariota, the entire roster and coaching staff absolutely has something to prove.TitanManRAMS 1

A 9-7 record and a playoff berth is a whole different deal than 8-8 and packing up your locker.

It’s not just one game, because with three consecutive losses the Titans have made it THE game.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There has been a bit of a business-as-usual feel around the Titans this week, as they head into a game that can get them into the playoffs.

That is not necessarily a bad thing.

But it’s a far cry from how some old Titans teams handled things during tense times, when pranks and silliness were a method used to ensure high-pressure stretches didn’t get too tense.

Once, a veteran who felt the team needed a jolt and a laugh boarded a scooter that belonged to the team mascot, T-Rac, and rode it through the locker room -- naked. The howling that ensued created a buzz and players had a big time making fun of him and getting caught up in the moment, one that distracted them in what proved to be a healthy way.LewanSmileSEA

There has been no hint of any such shenanigans for the 2017 Titans, who will not only be trying to get a 17th game, but playing to end a three-game losing streak.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Perhaps chief among the criticism Mike Mularkey and his coach staff have faced this year is that they are stubborn, and have not adjusted enough from things like their run-first mentality when it’s not worked.

Rare are the instances when the Titans have passed to set up the run.

TitansJaguarsHelmetsComing out of a loss in Arizona when they scored 7 points in Arizona, Terry Robiskie said the team was more likely to cut things down and really focus – perhaps running one running play six times instead of running six different running plays.

They’ve surely added other smart wrinkles along the way like the one Mularkey talked me through with Derrick Henry’s 17-yard touchdown run in Jacksonville in Week 2.

But from my vantage point, the willingness of Mularkey and Robiskie to push the envelope as needed and to stray from core offensive philosophical principles hasn’t been a big feature.

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