Can the Titans learn to handle prosperity?

The Titans have followed success this year mostly with disappointment. Can they end that trend in the final three games?

Several times already this season, the Tennessee Titans have had opportunities to establish themselves as legitimate NFL contenders.

At one point, this season, they were 3-1 following an overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

That was immediately followed by a three-game losing streak that included an embarrassing loss to the Bills and being shut out at home by the Ravens, who sacked Marcus Mariota 11 times that day.

The Titans again climbed out of the hole again and reeled off an impressive Monday night road win in Dallas, followed by an impressive thrashing the following Sunday of the New England Patriots.

At that point, the Titans stood at 5-4 with a chance to take control of the AFC South, only to falter with lopsided road losses to both the Colts and Texans, all but ending their divisional title hopes in the process.

Since that time, the Titans have won two games and face the challenge of trying to win their final three games in order to have a chance at the AFC’s final wild-card spot.

In two previous spots with a chance to establish themselves as contenders, the Titans have faltered. So what could possibly make this last chance any different, beginning with Sunday’s road test against the New York Giants.

“I think these last couple of weeks is something to build off of. With that being said, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done the last two weeks, it matters what you do on Sunday,” Mariota said. “It’s being able to take what we’ve done, learn from it, learn from, maybe, the mistakes that we’ve done, and then just go out there and play again.”

So how do the Titans guard against faltering again when success has been there for the taking this season?

“When it comes down to it, it’s just having a sense of urgency. Coming out in practice talking about it, it’s happened. We’ve kind of – I think throughout the locker room guys have mentioned it,” Mariota said. “It’s just having that mindset when you get on the road to stick together, to bring your own energy, and then from there just going out there and playing.”

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the players should be taking that message every week that each game is a new challenge.

“I think that would be the message every week for every player. Whatever we did last week isn’t going to have any bearing on how we play in New York against the Giants,” Vrabel said. “It’s a different defense, a different team. A team that is trending upward and is really improved over the course of the season. We better be ready for and continue to practice for and prepare for and be ready to play.”

Of course, with the Titans now in a mode of win or go home with no margin for error left as one of four 7-6 teams in the running for the sixth seed in the AFC, not much else should have to be said, according to Mariota. He said the Titans have to make sure they take care of business, but not allow it to cause them to put undue pressure on themselves.

“We’ve just got to take care of what’s going on. I think if you allow the situation to creep in, and guys start to kind of maybe get a little tense, and don’t really play the way that they normally would play. It’s being able to find that happy medium of playing loose, understanding the situation, but not allowing that to dictate how you play,” he said.