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Jaguars vs Titans: Players to watch

Keep a close eye on Zay Jones and K’Lavon Chaisson this week against Tennessee

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The 4-8 Jaguars are on the road this week to play the 7-5 Titans. It’s Jacksonville’s last realistic chance to keep its playoff hopes alive: Tennessee leads the division by three games but still has two games remaining against the Jaguars.

These are the players I’ll be watching most on either side of the ball this week.

WR Zay Jones

Trevor Lawrence should be able to have his way targeting the perimeter of the field on Sunday. Tennessee’s slew of injuries includes starting cornerback Kristian Fulton, who was ruled out with a groin injury. That leaves second-round rookie Roger McCreary as the only notable Titans cornerback, who has been targeted more than all but eight other players at his position this season (per PFF).

Philadelphia’s receivers dominated the Titans secondary last week.

Jacksonville’s receiving corps is on the opposite end of the league’s talent spectrum, but they still stand to benefit from this matchup -- #7 in particular.

Zay Jones has separated from Marvin Jones as Lawrence’s preferred outside option. Marvin hasn't played 70% of offensive snaps since Week 5, while Zay has earned 80% or more every week since September.

Here’s Jacksonville’s target leaders in the past month:

  • Christian Kirk: 38
  • Zay Jones: 36
  • Marvin Jones: 16
  • Evan Engram: 14
  • Jamal Agnew: 10

Kirk has been dependable in every game that wasn’t played in hurricane conditions this season. Zay, however, has been far more up-and-down, as evidenced by the past two weeks. He had a career day and walk-off two-point conversion to complete a comeback win over Baltimore, but the following Sunday in Detroit, he had more drops (3) than catches (2).

The Jaguars need both of their free agent receiver acquisitions to play well in this decisive divisional matchup.

OLB K’Lavon Chaisson

Speaking of team needs, a few more sacks here and there would make for a nice holiday gift.

I’d make the argument that Jacksonville’s glaring weakness at cornerback opposite Tyson Campbell gives Jaguars pass rushers a near-impossible chance to succeed. But we saw starting outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker each take a huge whiff on Jared Goff just last week (Jared Goff!) and Dawuane Smoot is seemingly the only defender who can beat interior linemen.

Fortunately, Jacksonville is getting pass rush reinforcements this week after K’Lavon Chaisson was activated following a seven-week absence.

The former 20th overall draft pick played just 31 defensive snaps in four games this season, with zero sacks or tackles for loss on his stat sheet. But at this point, Jacksonville will take any help it can get chasing opposing quarterbacks.

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