Titans vs Chargers: Keys to a playoff victory

Riding the wave of a three game win streak, the Titans will be seeking their fourth consecutive victory in Sunday’s playoff match up with the Chargers. Three straight wins at the end of the regular season have propelled the Titans into the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Jeff Fisher’s team has endured its share of adversity this season. After shooting out of the gates with a 6-2 record, the team struggled during the initial part of the second half of the season, losing three consecutive games while endangering their playoff aspirations. The Titans responded to their self-made adversity by persevering and winning their final three games.
The Titans will be faced with yet another challenge as they face off against a hot Chargers team. Here are some keys to victory for the Titans this Sunday:

The Revenge factor
Perhaps the lowest point of the year for the 2007 Tennessee Titans occurred against this weekend’s opponent, the San Diego Chargers. In last month’s epic battle, the Titans blew a 14 point fourth quarter lead in their excruciatingly painful 23-17 overtime loss to the Chargers. The loss to the Chargers put the Titans at 7-6 and in a must-win situation for the remainder of the season.
Needless to say, the Titans will be looking to avenge a loss that almost destroyed their hopes of making the postseason.
Continue San Diego’s playoff failures
On Sunday, San Diego will be facing an opponent almost as formidable as the Tennessee Titans: the apparition of recent playoff failures.  During the 2004 season, the Chargers suffered a heartbreaking 20-17 overtime playoff defeat to the New York Jets.
Last season, Marty Schottenheimer’s 14-2 Charger team was upset in its first playoff game as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rallied to defeat San Diego 24-21.
Both of San Diego’s recent playoff defeats have come at the not-so-friendly confines of Qualcomm Stadium. The Titans aspire to be the third team in recent years to crush San Diego’s playoff hopes in their own backyard.
Rob Bironas vs Nick Kaeding
A kicker who can make field goals when they matter the most is a valuable asset to a playoff team. Adam Vinatieri has kicked game-winning field goals in two Super Bowls for the Patriots and was also able to convert key field goals during the Indianapolis Colts’ world championship run last season.
This season, Rob Bironas has emerged as one of the league’s best kickers. His clutch 54-yard field goal gave the Titans a lead that they would never relinquish in last week’s playoff-clinching victory over the Colts. His NFL-record 8 field goal performance against the Texans earlier this season catapulted the Titans to a thrilling 38-36 victory over the Texans.
During the early stages of his career, Charger place-kicker Nick Kaeding has been the anti-Vinatieri in clutch situations. Kaeding’s “Del Grecoesque” performances during the postseason consist of a 40-yard overtime miss that sealed the fate of the Chargers in their 2004 playoff loss to the Jets and a 54-yard miss that served as the nail in San Diego’s coffin in last year’s playoff defeat to the Patriots.
The ability of a kicker to either succeed or fail in clutch situations is often the difference in attaining victory or suffering the agony of defeat. Considering the success of Rob Bironas this season and the past failures of Nick Kaeding on the postseason stage, the Titans should be confident in their chances if the game boils down to a field goal.

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