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Do the Jaguars have enough of an advantage on the Titans to pull off a season sweep of their rival?
Finding the silver lining in a two-win season is tough. Moral victories don't exist when a team has performed as poorly as the Jacksonville Jaguars have this season.
But if there was a high point to the 2012 season for the Jaguars, the team's 24-19 victory over the rival Tennessee Titans would certainly qualify.
The Jaguars looked as if they were turning a corner in that game, moving the ball effectively through the air and holdng Chris Johnson to under four yards per carry.
Since that game, though, the Jaguars have struggled in a big way, losing four straight games to the AFC East. Will the Jaguars be able to find an advantage in the regular season finale and perform a season sweep of the Titans? Let's look at the matchup.
When the Jaguars have the football
Chad Henne had one of his best games of the season against the Titans in Week 12, throwing for 261 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Unfortunately, the Titans were also able to sack him seven times in that game. The offensive line continues to be a major issue for the Jaguars, as the line has been shuffled and re-shuffled far too often this season. Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan, a former first round pick, has two sacks in his last three games and will be matched up with Guy Whimper on the right side. Keep a close eye on that matchup, as most of the Titans' pressure will either come from the interior or the right side.
The Jaguars will also be without wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who suffered another concussion last week. Shorts was a big part of the team's first win against Tennessee, going over 100 yards with a touchdown in that game. Henne will have to find a way to move the ball through the air without his top target. In fact, Justin Blackmon is the only receiver left from the opening day roster. Lucky for Henne, the Titans are near the bottom of the league in pass defense.
While the Titans are allowing over 120 yards per game on the ground, the Jaguars should still struggle to find success in the running game. Down to their fourth string running back, the Jaguars have had trouble establishing the running game this season. Jacksonville managed to grind out exactly 100 yards rushing in the last meeting, but Jalen Parmele and Rashad Jennings are no longer healthy, and the offensive line is even more banged up.
When the Titans have the football
For as much of a disaster as the Jaguars have been on offense this season, the Titans haven't been a whole lot better. Jake Locker is one of the most erratic quarterbacks in the league. His numbers are close to those of Henne, who has been far from adequate this season. Tennessee's offensive line is also banged up, which is a good sign for a Jaguars pass rush that came to life last week against the New England Patriots. Jason Babin and Jeremy Mincey were both getting consistent pressure on Tom Brady and will look to continue that this week. The Jaguars have been trying to develop a solid pass rush for what seems like forever. Sunday's game could be a nice evaluating tool for the offseason. Is Jason Babin going to be a key piece to the puzzle in 2013?
The Jaguars secondary should be able to contain Tennessee's wide receivers. Kendall Wright's status for Sunday's game is in question, and Kenny Britt was held in check in the last meeting. Sunday could be a final audition for soon-to-be free agent Derek Cox, who played well against New England but has been inconsistent and injury prone for the Jaguars.
With all of Tennessee's injuries up front, it may be tough for the team to exploit the Jaguars biggest weakness on defense, which is defending the run. Daryl Smith returned last week but clearly showed some rust. Chris Johnson is always a threat to rip off a huge run, but the Jaguars should be able to contain him in this one.
Matchup of the game: Jason Babin vs. Michael Roos
Jason Babin has shown flashes since joining the Jaguars, but it's still tough to tell exactly what the team has in him. After last week's strong performance, Babin has a difficult test against Michael Roos, who has been rock solid this season. Let's see if Babin can get the better of him.