The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) hit Nashville this week to take on the Tennessee Titans (7-5) in an AFC South matchup. The game is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday and will broadcast locally on CBS.
This will be the first of two late season matchups between the Jaguars and Titans as the squads will also meet in Week 18. To learn more about Tennessee we spoke to Jimmy Morris, editor-in-chief at Music City Miracles — SB Nation’s website for all thing Titans.
Is Jacksonville the biggest rival for Tennessee? Can the Titans possibly lose the AFC South? Who are the players to watch? Jimmy answers the questions and more.
1. Through 12 games, what does Tennessee do well? What does it need to improve on moving forward?
Jimmy: Through 12 games, the Titans have played really good run defense. They only allow 83.7 yards per game on the ground. Until a few weeks ago, they were also good at running the ball. That hasn’t been the case the last four games. Running back Derrick Henry hasn’t averaged more than 3.1 yards per carry since the Week 9 game against the Chiefs. That leads us perfectly into the question of what they need to improve on — the offensive line. They have the worst left tackle in the history of football — Dennis Daley. They have a left guard that isn’t big enough to play in the NFL — Aaron Brewer. They are OK at center and right guard, and have a rookie right tackle who has looked overmatched the last few weeks. The line isn’t good at pass blocking or run blocking.
2. The Titans currently lead the AFC South with a 7-5 overall record. The rest of the division has been underwhelming, with no other team having more than four wins. Do you expect the Titans to win the division at the end of the year? If so, can this team make any noise in the playoffs? Why or why not?
Jimmy: They are going to win the division. Their magic number currently sits at two over the Colts. The Titans still have a game against the Texans, and I cannot imagine the Titans are going to lose out and the Colts are going to win out. They are very lucky to be playing in a bad division this year.
I don’t think they will make any noise in the playoffs because we have seen what happens when they play against teams that are playoff bound. They are 1-5 against teams with a winning record on the season, and that one win came against the Washington Commanders. Unless they find a competent line and an extra weapon on the outside between now and January.
3. Outside of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry, who are the players to watch on Tennessee’s offense?
Jimmy: Wide receiver Treylon Burks if he plays. He got concussed in the game against the Eagles. He was out cold in the end zone but held on for the touchdown.
If he doesn’t play, I don’t really have an answer for you. You could watch Dennis Daley give up sacks for 60 minutes. Wide receiver Racey McMath is a second-year guy that was getting some publicity in the preseason as a guy that can stretch the field. He has been out since then with a hip injury but returned to practice this week. Hopefully, he can play and give them a big play or two.
4. Who are the difference-makers for the Titans on defense?
Jimmy: Jeffery Simmons is one of the five best defensive tackles in the NFL. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree has flashed at times. He’s a guy they need to step up with all of the money they are paying him. Kristian Fulton is their best cornerback, but he may not play because of a groin injury. Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker are two really good safeties who can make some plays on the back-end.
5. Would you consider the Jaguars as the Titans’ biggest rival? Why or why not?
Jimmy: I would not. It’s the Colts and mainly because the Titans and Colts have been good at the same time more often than the Titans and Jaguars have been. You have to go back to 2016 to find a year where the Titans and Colts didn’t finish next to each other in the standings. Now, with that being said, back in 1999 when the Titans beat the Jags three times and Jeff Fisher mentioned Jacksonville as one of the Titans’ home stadiums, then it was a different conversation.
6. According to the DraftKings Sportsbook, the Titans are currently four-point favorites and the over/under is set at 41. Will Tennessee cover, are you taking the over or the under and what is your final score prediction?
Jimmy: I have a feeling this game is going to end up being a shootout if Trevor Lawrence plays. I’d take Titans 31-24 in that scenario. If Lawrence doesn’t play, I think the Titans will have a game plan similar to what they did against the Texans when they slowed it down and handed the ball to Henry 32 times. The Titans win that game 21-6.