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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Steelers-Titans rare sort of late-season matchup

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans PR staff offered up some great context Wednesday for the magnitude of Sunday's Pittsburgh-Tennessee matchup.

Since 1995, there have been only five previous games in the final two weeks of the regular season featuring teams with five or fewer combined losses.

The Titans were part of such a game in their Super Bowl season in 1999 -- when a 13-1 Jacksonville team came to play the 11-3 Titans and lost.

Here's a look at each of those games:

Matchups since 1995 featuring teams with five or fewer combined losses in the final two weeks of the regular season
DateTeamsWinner
Dec. 15, 1997Denver (11-3) at San Francisco (12-2)San Francisco, 34-17
Dec. 20, 1998Jacksonville (10-4) at Minnesota (13-1)Minnesota, 50-10
Dec. 26, 1999Jacksonville (13-1) at Tennessee (11-3)Tennessee, 41-14
Dec. 24, 2005Indianapolis (13-1) at Seattle (12-2)Seattle, 28-13
Dec. 29, 2007New England (15-0) at N.Y. Giants (10-5)New England, 38-35
Dec. 21, 2008Pittsburgh (11-3) at Tennessee (12-2)Sunday, 1 p.m.

I find it interesting that four of the five games didn't live up to their billing in that they were won by 15 points or more -- not 17 as I had originally written. (I can be quite the mathemagician.)

Feedback below shows that more than one of these games feature a team secure in its playoff fortunes and willing to rest key people.