NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There was a much different vibe in the Tennessee Titans locker room after their 17-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. After snapping a three-game losing streak, a sense of relief resonated from the team, especially defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
"This is a great win," Simmons said with a smile. "One that we really needed because of the energy, social media, all that, and everything has just been down."
When it comes to playing games in Nashville, there's no place like home. The Titans (4-7) are undefeated in front of their home crowd, but away from Nissan Stadium, they have yet to win a game. Their Week 6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was considered a home game, but it was actually played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Veteran wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has played in a lot of games as a visitor against the Titans over his seven-year career with the Houston Texans and once in 2021 when he played for the Arizona Cardinals. Despite Hopkins being in his first season with the organization, he admitted he's always appreciated the way the fans support the Titans.
"These fans are special," Hopkins said. "They're standing up throughout the game. You look up in the audience seeing no one sitting down. So, they're cheering on third downs. The defense is out there, and they're there supporting us. A lot of admiration for these fans."
Tennessee's home success is no coincidence. The offense has been more efficient at home as opposed to on the road, and the defense has been a little more stingy.
This season's variance is more extreme than any season since 2018, when Mike Vrabel became the coach. The Titans have a 28-18 home record up to this point as compared to a 24-23 away record, and they're losing streak away from Nashville extends to 10 dating to 2022.
Sure, the opponents (Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Panthers) are not the same caliber as who the Titans have faced on the road. As Vrabel pointed out, they have played some tough defenses on the road like the New Orleans Saints in the season opener, along with the Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
But there's a different level of pride that NFL teams take in playing at home.
"As a man, you don't allow another man to come in your house and take anything," outside linebacker Arden Key said. "It's like that with football. We've got great fans that care. It would be a disservice for us to not go out there and try to get the win for our home fans."
Overall, the Titans rank 27th in points per game (16.8). That number catapults to 24.7 at home. The Titans have scored 20 or more points three times this season, all of them coming at Nissan Stadium.
Vrabel pointed to being able to use the cadence as a weapon at home games because the crowd is silent when the offense is on the field. He said varying the cadence can help "undress some of the coverage or some of the pressure that may come" or even force the defense to jump offsides. It gives a sneak preview of the answers to the test for rookie quarterback Will Levis.
Levis said he wanted to be more effective in getting in and out of the huddle after the team struggled in a 34-14 road loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars the week prior. He seemed a little more pleased about the team's efficiency after Sunday's win.
"I think we did a good job of getting in the call quick, getting in the huddle quick and getting out quick," Levis said after the game.
Conversely, Tennessee is averaging 11 points per game on the road. The Titans have only scored four touchdowns on the road this season (five if you count the game in London) and have failed to reach the end zone in four of them.
Levis is now 2-3 since taking over as the starter in Week 7 -- winning both of his starts at home -- and four of his six touchdown passes have come in front of the home fans.
"I guess we have good fans," Levis said.
"Right now our focus is preparing to win a division game at home," Vrabel said. "We got to stay focused on us and just winning and that kind of takes care of everything else."