Byline: VITO STELLINO
NASHVILLE -- If the Jaguars appear to be in a familiar situation today, it's only because they are.
For the second consecutive season, they're 6-3 at the nine-game mark and poised for a playoff run as they face a salary-cap-strapped Tennessee Titans team with a losing record.
Last year, the Titans were 3-6 and came to Alltel Stadium for the 10th game and upset the Jaguars, 18-15. That started the Jaguars on a three-game losing streak, and they wound up missing the playoffs by one game.
That's why the Jaguars, who are beginning a critical three-game road trip before coming home to host the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 11, are taking the 2-7 Titans very seriously.
Last year's meeting at Alltel also was just the latest in a long line of nightmarish games for Jacksonville against Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, who has a knack for beating the Jaguars and then needling them afterward.
Veteran wide receiver Jimmy Smith, the only Jaguar left from their first team in 1995, knows all too well the history between these two teams.
"Even though they've got a lot of young guys, this is a team that is capable of beating you and we have to keep that in the back of our minds when we step out on the field Sunday and not take this team for granted," Smith said. "I think we prepared well for this team just the way we prepared for Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. It's the same mentality we've got to have throughout the season."
This is the 21st regular-season meeting between the two teams dating back to 1995 when the Titans were in Houston as the Oilers. The Titans have a 12-8 edge and have won six of the last seven.
They also beat the Jaguars in the 1999 AFC title game in their only playoff meeting. That was the year the Jaguars went 15-3, and all three losses were to Titans. The Titans went to the Super Bowl and Fisher needled the Jaguars by suggesting Alltel Stadium was one of Tennessee's home fields.
Smith also remembers the 2002 season.
"We've been through it before," he said. "They were 1-5 or something, and we went up there and they beat us, and they ended up being in the championship games."
Actually, the Titans were 1-4 and the Jaguars 3-1. But Samari Rolle knocked Mark Brunell out with a concussion, the Jaguars went into a tailspin, finished 6-10 and coach Tom Coughlin was fired. The Titans went 11-5 and made the AFC title game, which they lost to the Oakland Raiders. …