On Sunday, the Tennessee Titans host divisional rival the Jacksonville Jaguars in a must-win game. If the Titans win then they will make the playoffs and break their 9 season playoff drought. Standing in their way is Jacksonville who has already declared that they are not going to rest players and want to win this game. The Jaguars clinched a playoff spot already and hope to build positive momentum heading into the playoffs. Kickoff inside Nissan Stadium is at 4:25 PM ET.
This will be the 47th meeting between these two teams. The Titans have the advantage with an all-time record of 26-20. The Titans have a 13-9 all-time record at home against the Jaguars and have won the last 3 games at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee also won the first game this season between these two teams by a score of 37-16.
The Jaguars (10-5) are 4-3 on the road and have lost 3 of the last 4 games against the Titans. They’re coming off a bad road loss to the 49ers where their vaunted defense gave up 44 points and quarterback Blake Bortles returned to his turnover ways with 3 picks. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has declared that the team is fully committed to winning this weekend and wants to build momentum for the playoffs. I would expect the Jags also want to get revenge for their bad Week 2 loss to the Titans and to keep their divisional rival from making the playoffs.
Tennessee (8-7) is 5-2 at home, but has lost 3 straight games and has fallen into a 3 way-tie for the last AFC Wild Card spot. If the Titans win, then they will get one of the Wild Card spots. If they lose, then they will need the Chargers and Bills to both lose this weekend. That will keep them ahead with a better conference record. Will the Titans break their playoff drought this weekend at the expense of the Jaguars?
The spread opened with the Titans favored by 5 points, but it has since come down to 3 points. The Over/Under opened at 41 points and has gone up to 42 total points.
It’s nice to hear that the Jaguars will play their starters in an effort to win this game, but the reality is clear that if this matchup becomes a slugfest then the Jaguars will pull their starters. Jacksonville has nothing to gain by going all out for this win. Despite what they’re saying, resting their starters for a half is better than playing a full game and risking injuries.
For the Titans, they will be desperate to win. They’ve lost their last 3 games by a combined total of 11 points. Tennessee needs to play better on offense to have a chance. Since their Week 2 matchup, Jacksonville has found their identity and has been playing great football. For the Titans, they seem to have lost their identity and will most likely be down a running back this weekend as Demarco Murray is suffering from a knee injury. That means all of the offensive pressure will fall on Derrick Henry to move the ball on the ground and QB Marcus Mariota to move the ball in the air.
If the Jaguars were really committed to winning, I believe they would. That defense would definitely cause problems for Mariota all day. As it stands, I believe they will crush Mariota in the first half and force a few turnovers. Currently, Mariota already has 15 interceptions on the season and just 12 touchdown throws. The Jaguars feature the best defense in the league and I feel they’re too much for Mariota to handle. Fortunately for the Titans, the Jaguars will pull their starters sometime in the 3rd quarter and that will allow Tennessee to get back into this game.
I expect the Titans to score a late touchdown to get the lead and, ultimately, win the game 20-16. Look for Henry to capitalize on a Jaguars defense that gives up 116.3 rushing ypg. Mariota won’t have any success until many of the defensive starters are out of the game. Jacksonville’s defense is near the top of the league in points allowed, sacks, interceptions and passing yards allowed. They’re also good in the red zone and on 3rd downs. Bottom line, Tennessee won’t have any real success in the air as long as the Jaguars have their starters in.
The Jaguars are 1-4 ATS as an underdog of 3 points or less. The Titans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games, 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 home games and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against a team with a winning record. The Favorite in this series is 4-1-1 ATS in the last 6 games.
The Jaguars will get Leonard Fournette his 1,000 yards this season as the rookie running back only needs 29 more yards. But, since he’s been banged up over the last few months, I don’t see him playing more than a half. Additionally, look for Bortles to be pulled by the second half as well. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where the Jaguars will play all 4 quarters. And, even though the Titans have a bad offense, I see them scoring a late TD to win this game 20-16.