The Houston Texans have won the AFC South three times in coach Bill O'Brien's five seasons, and they have led or shared the divisional lead all but three weeks this season. Adding a fourth title to that list means going through the franchise the Texans replaced in Houston.
The Tennessee Titans last won the AFC South in 2008 and haven't swept the Houston Texans since 2007. But the Titans and second-year coach Mike Vrabel, who got his NFL coaching start in Houston working with linebackers for O'Brien in 2014, has won four straight and six of seven since quarterback Marcus Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill.
That combination helped the Titans (8-5) climb from the bottom of the AFC South midway through the season into a tie with the Texans (8-5). Tennessee hosts Houston on Sunday in the first of two games between the rivals in the final three weeks of the schedule. ''The challenge is getting ready for them the first time,'' Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. ''The second one is not going to mean a whole lot. We've got to get ready for the first one here.''
Houston holds the No. 4 seed in the AFC thanks to a better record against conference teams than Tennessee. A sweep offers the Titans the safest bet to the division title and the franchise's first home playoff game since January 2009. With Tannehill at quarterback, Tennessee is scoring 31.4 points a game - second in the NFL in that time only to Baltimore. Week 15 started Thursday night with Baltimore's 42-21 home victory over the New York Jets.