December 03, 2014

As poor as the Tennessee Titans have played this season, their organization might be in a more stable state than that of the New York Giants, who appear to be at a crossroads.

With a combined 13 consecutive losses between them, one of those skids will come to an end Sunday when the Giants visit Nashville to take on the Titans.

Things might have bottomed out last Sunday for New York (3-9), which blew a 21-0 lead and lost 25-24 at lowly Jacksonville. Since winning three in a row, the Giants have dropped seven straight for their longest slide since losing eight in a row during Tom Coughlin's first season as coach in 2004.

"Miserable," Coughlin said of his recent state of mind. "What else can I say?"

Another defeat brought up more questions about job security for the 68-year-old Coughlin, who won't talk about his future.

"This thing is not about me," he said. "I am not interested in discussing my circumstances whatsoever. I am not worried or concerned. I am worried about my team."

Though Coughlin's job appears safe through the final four games, his future is more uncertain. The Giants will miss the playoffs for a third straight season since winning their second Super Bowl in five years. With its coach irritated and the team in a freefall, the organization appears to be at the lowest point of Coughlin's tenure.

"We are being tested, perhaps, like we have never been tested before," said Coughlin, whose team has led in the fourth quarter of the last two games.

"I try to pay attention and do the job to the best of my ability and my concern is with my coaches and my team," he added. "Our organization, everybody in the Giants' organization, lives and dies with how this football team does. I understand that completely and the responsibility that I have to my coaches and players and to our owners, we are going to work our ever-loving (butts) off to try to find a way to win a game.

"That's all at this point in time that we can do."

It likely won't be easy with a defense that ranks 29th in allowing 385.0 yards per game and an offense that committed two fumbles which Jacksonville returned for touchdowns.

Embattled quarterback Eli Manning didn't throw an interception after being picked off seven times in the previous three games, but was responsible for one fumble-turned-touchdown and coughed up the ball to end the Giants' final drive after one play.

Rashad Jennings rushed for 91 yards and two TDs, but could miss this contest with an ankle injury.

Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was the most prominent of the five Giants placed on injured reserve this week, raising the team total to 20.

Rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr., meanwhile, remains one of the few bright spots during New York's dark stretch. With seven receptions for 90 yards at Jacksonville, Beckham has 38 catches - highlighted by his acrobatic, one-handed TD grab against Dallas on Nov. 23 - for 593 yards in the last five contests.

"We're going to stay together no matter what," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We're going to finish this season strong."

Tennessee (2-10) is tied for the second-worst record in the NFL and has allowed 88 points in two games, but ownership has already publicly come out in support of first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster.

Whether that proves beneficial remains to be seen, but there appears to be more stability going forward in Tennessee than the uncertainty surrounding the Giants.

"I believe that we've shown that we have a plan that can work," Whisenhunt said. "There's evidence of that. Is it going the way we want it to right now? No."

It's Whisenhunt's job to remain optimistic about a team that is last in the league at 28.2 points allowed per game but managed to score at least 21 in three straight contests after doing so twice over the previous nine.

Tennessee, however, fell behind 24-0 last Sunday at Houston and, before the 45-21 loss concluded, allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for a franchise-record six TDs and DeAndre Hopkins to set career highs with nine receptions, 238 yards and two touchdowns.

"We've got to play better football, it doesn't really matter who our opponent is," said Whisenhunt, whose team will try to avoid losing seven straight in a season for the first time since the 1994 Houston Oilers dropped 11 in a row.

Zach Mettenberger said he "definitely" will be under center despite being knocked out with a shoulder injury against the Texans. Mettenberger has completed 60.7 percent of his passes and thrown eight TDs with five INTs while starting the last five games.

Jake Locker went 6 of 12 for 91 yards with a TD and two picks in relief.

Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter won't be on the field again this season after suffering a lacerated spleen last week. Kendall Wright, who leads the team with 51 receptions after catching seven balls for 132 yards at Houston, seems unlikely to play after breaking a bone in his hand Wednesday in practice.

Tennessee extended its series winning streak to five games over the Giants with a 29-10 victory Sept. 26, 2010.

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