Tennessee Titans (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Artificial turf
TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon)
PREDICTION: Titans 28-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: With RB Chris Johnson 128 rushing yards away from 2,000 and 74 shy of Marshall Faulk's single-season combined yardage record of 2,429, the Titans will be motivated to help him reach a few personal milestones. Seattle gave up five rushing touchdowns last Sunday as the overworked defense has worn down. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has thrown eight interceptions the past two games. He's forcing too many balls into coverage when Seattle falls behind and appears to lack velocity from a shoulder injury suffered midseason.
FAST FACTS: Johnson has 10 consecutive 100-yard rushing games. ... The Seahawks have been outscored 106-24 the past three weeks.
--CB Nick Harper's season is over after he was placed on injured reserve after reinjuring the forearm he broke against Indianapolis on Oct. 11.
--RB LenDale White is the forgotten man in Tennessee. Since Chris Johnson's pursuit of 2,000 yards cranked up down the stretch, White does not have a carry in the past three games and has just 11 rushes for 26 yards since Nov. 8.
--C Kevin Mawae sat out Wednesday with a forearm injury but will play on Sunday.
--DT Tony Brown rested his knee and quadriceps for a second straight day on Thursday, but should play Sunday in Seattle.
--T Troy Kropog, who injured his calf last week in practice, did not practice on Thursday.
--C/G Fernando Velasco will move up to the 53-man roster this week as LB Keith Bulluck (knee) was placed on injured reserve.
--CB Ryan Mouton missed a second straight practice with an ankle injury.
--WR Nate Burleson (ankle) will not practice for a third straight week, and likely will not play on Sunday, finishing the season with 63 receptions for 812 yards and three touchdowns.
--LB Aaron Curry (shoulder) is doubtful for Sunday, and likely will miss his second straight game.
--WR Ben Obomanu (hamstring) returned to practice this week after missing most of last week with a strained hamstring, and should be ready to go on Sunday.
--RB Julius Jones (rib) did not practice for a second straight day and is questionable for Sunday.
--LB Leroy Hill (knee) practiced on Thursday and should be ready to go for Sunday's game against Tennessee.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Life in the NFL can take a player back and forth to many destinations, especially if players send any sizable amount of time in the league and change cities and teams. But for Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, Sunday's regular-season finale in Seattle will be a homecoming of sorts. That is where Mawae began his NFL career, as a second-round pick of the Seahawks way back in 1994.
Mawae spent four years with the Seahawks, but after leaving for the New York Jets after the 1997 season, his travels and visits to various cities had never taken him back to Seattle before this Sunday.
He will get to see Qwest Field, which he actually had a small part in building, even while he played his four seasons there in the long-since-demolished Kingdome. "I became a registered voter in Washington so I could vote on the referendum for the new stadium, which I've never played in before," he said.
Mawae, who turns 39 on Jan. 23, admits it will be special for him to be back where his professional career started, but that it will be even more special if the Titans can get Chris Johnson into the 2,000-yard club. The running back needs 128 yards to get to two grand, and if he could somehow run for a career-high 234 yards, he could eclipse Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105.
"Chris' career day so far is 228. It's possible," Mawae said. "The Seahawks aren't gonna make it easy for us by any stretch of the imagination. The fun thing is we have something to play for. A lot of teams going into this week, they have no chance to make the playoffs. They've been out of it for several weeks. They've got really nothing other than pride to play for.
"Us, we've got multiple records for Chris to play for - 78 yards to break the franchise record, 75 yards to break Marshall Faulk's yards from the line of scrimmage, and it goes on, 128 to break 2,000 and 234 to break the 2,105 mark."
Mawae knows how special any of those accomplishments would be. But Sunday will also mark another special accomplishment for him. Barring injury, it will mark the first time since 2006 that he has made it through an entire season without an injury. His 2007 season was cut short by a calf injury in December, and his 2008 campaign was short-circuited by a torn triceps tendon also in December. Both years, the Titans made the playoffs and Mawae was unable to go. There are no playoffs this time around, but with Johnson going for milestones, Mawae said he won't let the nagging forearm strain he has keep him from taking the field, despite not practicing.
"It's kind of like a strained hamstring with my forearm more than anything else. It's not a structural thing. I just tweaked my forearm in the game a little bit last week, and they're letting me rest it. No doubt, I'll be playing this week," Mawae said.
Even though he's struggling through one of his worst seasons statistically in his 11-year career, Seahawks' quarterback Matt Hasselbeck won the Steve Largent award this week, an award voted on by his teammates, and given to a player or coach who most exemplifies the spirit, dedication, and integrity of former Seahawk wide receiver Steve Largent.
It's the first time Hasselbeck earned the honor. Departing head coach Mike Holmgren won the award last year "I thought there were more deserving this year," Hasselbeck said. "But it's a very cool trophy and I'll find a place for it.
"It's a special honor. And they opened it up to coaches as well, so it's more competition. And it's voted on by your teammates, so that's very important."
Even though Hasselbeck has thrown as many touchdowns (16) as interceptions this season, including nine in his past three games, offensive guard Rob Sims says that Hasselbeck still is the unquestioned leader of this team.
"Matt has always been the backbone of this team," Sims said. "We still support him. I hope he trusts in us the way we trust in him. He deserved to win it."
Now Hasselbeck would like to get back to the way he usually plays on Sundays, which includes making quick, good decisions with the ball, leading his team into the end zone and ultimately wins. Seattle has scored just 24 points in the last three games, all losses.
"You always want to play your best, especially at home," Hasselbeck said. "But just given how things have gone this year, and how the season has gone, I think it's just more important to just go out and play your best and get a win."