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Facing a familiar team

The Jaguars are playing the Titans for the second time in 18 days. Is familiarity an advantage or a disadvantage?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Just 17 days ago, the Jaguars found a way to beat the Titans in the teams' first match-up of the season. Tomorrow, the two division rivals will meet once again.

Playing the same opponent twice within such a small portion of the schedule could be advantageous, but also presents some unique challenges for a couple of struggling teams.

Based on various quotes throughout the week, it's pretty clear that both teams recognize the uncertainty involved in a familiar match-up.

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley refused to acknowledge any deviation from normal game planning.

"We just approach it like we've got to prepare for this team and start from scratch and go for it," Bradley stated. "It's a new game, a new opportunity, we're going on the road and another set of variables that come into play."

Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson shared Bradley's stance, but expanded on the preparation that goes into playing your division rivals twice in one season.

"Three of the last five for us we'll be playing for the second time," Olson said. "That's important. We spoke about this this morning, to the players. As you work down the stretch here, you're going to be playing three that we've played previously. It's important, one, that you reflect upon those notes and what we did well and the things that they'll be working on. Certainly, they'll be working to stop some of the things we did well. We're aware of that and the players are aware of that."

Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota had a plainer way of putting things.

"I think it can be an advantage, for sure," Mariota admitted on his Jacksonville media conference call. "You're kind of accustomed to seeing the looks."

Blake Bortles had a similar perspective.

"Obviously, they're going to do some different things and throw some mix-ups in there, but for basing it overall from a schematics standpoint, they're going to be who they are," Blake stated. "Then personnel-wise, you get to know guys playing them twice a year, every year, and what their strengths and weaknesses are, so I think it's a good thing and definitely something I look forward to."

If the Jaguars are ever going to get over the hump, they need to find a way to consistently compete with divisional opponents. As the season starts to come to an end, the Jaguars' performance against divisional opponents will become a significant storyline. Alfie wrote about this point earlier in the week.

A strange snag in scheduling has gifted the Jaguars with an opportunity to beat Tennessee twice in 17 days. The team needs to take advantage of it.

Bortles knows this.

"We want to be able to own the AFC South and be competitive and consistent year in and year out," Blake said earlier this week. "I think winning divisional games is how you start doing that."