Week 14 of the NFL season gets started with a Thursday night game between a pair of AFC South rivals, as the Tennessee Titans host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is at 8:20 EST on Thursday, December 6, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The game can be seen nationally on Fox.
Tennessee has opened the week as 4-point favorites at home. The over/under is set at 37.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of the Week 14 betting odds.
The Titans are fortunate to still be alive in the playoff hunt after their comeback win over the Jets in Week 13. Tennessee trailed 22-13 heading into the 4th quarter but scored the final 13 points of the game to avoid what would have been their third straight loss. With the win, the Titans improved to 6-6, making them one of four teams in the AFC with that record, a full game behind the Ravens for the final wild-card spot.
Obviously, that gives Tennessee a chance to reach the playoffs for the second straight season. However, because they lost to the Ravens earlier this year, the Titans need to be two games better than Baltimore the rest of the way. The Titans have a manageable schedule down the stretch, with three of their final four games coming at home. But they don’t have a lot of margin for error, especially after they barely beat the lowly Jets.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, is out of the playoff race but was finally able to end their losing streak by beating the Colts over the weekend. One week after firing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and replacing Blake Bortles with Cody Kessler, the Jaguars still couldn’t get much going offensively. However, Week 13 the Jacksonville defense pitched a shutout against Andrew Luck and company. Offensively, the Jags did enough to win 6-0 after losing seven games in a row.
If nothing else, getting a win should help the Jaguars to relax a little down the stretch, even without much hope of returning to the playoffs. They will also play their four remaining games against teams in the playoff picture. That will at least give them influence over what teams reach the playoffs.
The Jags will also be motivated to face one of their division rivals on national TV. Tennessee has won five of the last six head-to-head meetings between these two teams. That includes a 9-6 win for the Titans in Week 3 when both teams failed to find the end zone.
It’s tough to trust the Jaguars at the moment, or any team starting Kessler at quarterback. But the same can be said of Mariota and the Titans. Tennessee is in the unique position of playing on a short week two straight games, which seems a little problematic from their perspective. Meanwhile, the monkey is off Jacksonville’s back after last week’s win. They’ll also be eager to help ruin Tennessee’s season. With the spread more than a field goal, I’ll take the Jaguars as underdogs.
I know it’s just one game, but the Jacksonville defense from last season made an appearance over the weekend against Indianapolis. The Jags pitched a shutout against a team that had won five in a row and scored a minimum of 27 points during those five games. They also sacked Andrew Luck three times after the star quarterback was barely touched in the previous five games. Again, it’s just one game, but it was awfully impressive.
It’s also important to keep in mind the inconsistency of the Tennessee offense. Mariota was excellent in the 2nd half against the Jets, but only after a disastrous 1st half. The Titans have also had trouble running the ball with consistency all season. They’ve also struggled to keep Mariota protected this year, which is always a concern against the Jaguars. Obviously, last week’s 4th quarter rally could help jumpstart the Tennessee offense. But that may not be so easy given the play of Jacksonville’s defense last week.
To be fair, it’s tough to expect much out of the Jacksonville offense. Kessler, to his credit, completed 75% of his passes and didn’t turn the ball over last week. But the Jaguars didn’t ask him to do much and ended up with only six points at home against a rather mediocre Indianapolis defense. On the bright side, Leonard Fournette is set to return this week after missing the game against the Colts due to a suspension. But the Jaguars will still be limited offensively with Kessler at quarterback.
That being said, the Tennessee defense hasn’t been reliable over the past month. Their season numbers look good, but they gave up over 30 points to both the Colts and Texans. They also conceded 22 points to the Jets, which is akin to giving up 30-plus points to a better team. The Titans were shredded on the ground last week despite going up against Josh McCown, who they know isn’t a huge threat through the air. That makes me nervous about a similar issue this week against Fournette and the Jacksonville rushing attack.
Admittedly, Tennessee is capable of winning this game by a comfortable margin, especially at home. But between their poor play the last few weeks and the performance by Jacksonville’s defense last week, there’s a lot that could go against the Titans in this game. With the spread more than a field goal, I feel more comfortable taking the underdog Jags and the points.