NFL Nation: Najeh Davenport
For much of the year there was speculation that this game would be a mirror image of last season's finale. In 2007, the Titans needed to win to get in and the game meant nothing to the Colts, who didn't play their key people long, if at all.
Indy avoided that role reversal by clinching the top wild-card berth on Dec. 18.
So now the game means nothing for either team.
The Colts are a week away from a playoff opener and will rest up. The Titans have a week off coming up and would like to maintain some rhythm, but aren't going to risk much. Tennessee probably wants to win more, because it would mean the first 14-win season in franchise history.
But look deep on the depth charts to find the guys who will determine the outcome. We're talking Jim Sorgi, Pierre Garcon and Najeh Davenport of the Colts against Vince Young, Chris Henry and Paul Williams.
Kudos to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his efforts to ensure the schedule offers better games at the end of the season and fewer meaningless contests involving playoff teams. This one had potential for a while, but unfortunately qualifies as a miss.
The biggest win for either side? No one gets hurt.
The Jaguars have played better the past two weeks, which has many feeling they could be poised to be a spoiler for the Ravens -- who need a win to get the final AFC playoff berth.
Here's why Baltimore can be confident: While the Ravens have lost all five games they've played against playoff teams, they're undefeated against teams who aren't playing in January. And the Jaguars were eliminated weeks ago.
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has a knee injury but practiced Friday and is probable. He's topped 100 yards only twice this season, and the Ravens haven't allowed a back to go over 100 in 34 consecutive games. He's more likely to hurt the Ravens as a receiver - he's got 61 receptions for 555 yards.
It was a big development for this game Friday when the Bears placed safety Mike Brown on injured reserve. Replacement Craig Steltz won't be as helpful for Chicago as it tries to slow down the Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson connection.
Johnson's numbers at Reliant Stadium are spectacular: a 134.4 yard average with five games over 100 yards. But don't sleep on Kevin Walter - if the receiver who plays opposite Johnson catches a touchdown pass, he'll break Johnson's franchise record of eight.
The Texans have heard a lot about how they've been good at winning games that don't mean anything. They could score some respect, claim progress and get a big gift basket from the Vikings if they step it up here and do well as a spoiler against the Bears.
Steve Slaton went against fellow rookie running back Chris Johnson twice in matchups with the Titans. Now he's in another matchup against a successful rookie back in the Bears' Matt Forte, who's the lone rookie in the league to lead his team in rushing (1,188 yards), receptions (60) and touchdowns (12).
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A full slate of headlines collected during my morning surfing session...
Richard Justice looks at Vince Young, coming home at a career crossroads.
The Texans win in December, but it's usually been too late, says Dale Robertson.
The Titans Houston-based owner Bud Adams has been smartly patient with his people, writes John McClain.
Former receiver Harry Williams won the Texans' Ed Block Courage Award.
McClain looks at Titans-Texans matchups.
Is Peyton Manning lining up for a third MVP? Mike Chappell contemplates.
Chappell looks at four of Manning's best moments this season.
The transcript of Bill Polian's weekly radio show.
Clint Sessions is a lot better player than he was early this season, according to Phillip B. Wilson.
Jim Trotter says it's a toss-up whether the Colts are going to be a threat in the playoffs.
Najeh Davenport joined the Colts and is ready to return kicks, writes Phil Richards.
A look at Darrell Reid's prep career, by Chappell.
The Colts have to be wary of Calvin Johnson.
His season over, Fred Taylor plans to play in 2009, writes Vito Stellino.
Packers-Jaguars won't be blacked out in Jacksonville.
Please don't miss those two stories from Houston under the Texans header -- one on Vince Young and one on Bud Adams.
Kicker Rob Bironas is hoping for a long-term deal, says Jessica Bliss.
LenDale White only has 674 yards, but holds out hope of joining Chris Johnson as a 1,000-yard rusher, writes Gary Estwick.
A Nashville lab confirmed the contents of the controversial StarCaps over a year ago, writes Teresa Walker.
Michael Roos is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, says Terry McCormick.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Here are the most interesting stories in the AFC North Friday:
- Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who made his name as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, said he is not worried about his future with the team.
Morning take: Right or wrong, I get a much different feeling from the two Ohio teams. In Cleveland, everyone is on eggshells. In Cincinnati, there seems to be an unusual level of calm for a one-win team.
- Speaking of Cleveland, some believe Browns general manager Phil Savage is throwing head coach Romeo Crennel under the bus with his comments this week.
Morning take: See the first morning take.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers, for the second time this season, signed backup running back Najeh Davenport.
Morning take: This is likely a sign that starting tailback Willie Parker will not play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Some have been clamoring for backup Mewelde Moore to get more carries and will get their wish.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Here are the most interesting story lines in the AFC North:
- Coming off the season-ending shoulder injury to rookie tailback Rashard Mendenhall, the Pittsburgh Steelers reacted quickly Tuesday and signed Najeh Davenport.
Morning take: Not a bad move, considering the circumstances. Davenport knows the offense so he shouldn't have much of a learning curve. He just needs to hold the fort for another week or two before starter Willie Parker returns.
- The Cincinnati Bengals added another running back off the street Tuesday, signing former Chicago Bears tailback Cedric Benson.
Morning take: Unlike the Steelers' move, this signing didn't make as much sense. Benson's had some character concerns and there's a hometown product from nearby Kentucky in Shaun Alexander who has a better resume and would have been a better public relations move.
- Continuing Tuesday's theme of AFC North running backs, Willis McGahee's ribs are a concern this week for the Baltimore Ravens.
Morning take: Baltimore could really use McGahee this week against the Tennessee Titans. But fullback La'Ron McClain also is quietly developing into a nice find when needed to carry the football.
9:30 AM ET Detroit Atlanta 1:00 PM ET St. Louis Kansas City 1:00 PM ET Houston Tennessee 1:00 PM ET Minnesota Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET Seattle Carolina 1:00 PM ET Baltimore Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET Miami Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET Chicago New England 1:00 PM ET Buffalo New York 4:05 PM ET Philadelphia Arizona 4:25 PM ET Oakland Cleveland 4:25 PM ET Indianapolis Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET Green Bay New Orleans