After a much needed bye week, the Tennessee Titans (8-4) return to Nissan Stadium to host the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) in an AFC South matchup.
Last week’s break came at a perfect time for a banged up football team that has already set an NFL record for players used in a single season. Coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season, this week of rest allows the Titans to reset and gear up for the homestretch of the 2021 NFL regular season.
This matchup between Jacksonville and Tennessee is the second time these two teams have seen one another this season. The divisional opponents played in Jacksonville back on October 10th, with the Titans winning 37-19, which happened to be the first victory of a six-game winning streak.
Jacksonville enters this annual trip to Nashville on a four-game losing streak ever since their upset victory over Buffalo. A Jaguars offense that has scored a single touchdown in each of their last three games is led by rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who passed for 273 yards, a touchdown, and an interception against the Titans back in October.
With an offense that has struggled to produce points and sustain drives, the Jacksonville defense has spent its fair share of time on the field. On average, the Jaguars have given up a shade under 27 points per game.
The biggest storyline for the Titans following the bye week is the potential return of several key contributors. Players such as Jeremy McNichols, Nate Davis, and Rashaan Evans were all full participants in practice this past Wednesday. Now off of IR and returning to practice, could we see Julio Jones back on the field this week? Whoever is able to return, it is good to see the Titans be able to get several starters back on the field.
As for the Titans offense, limiting or eliminating turnovers has to be a point of emphasis. Nine turnovers in the last two games is not a recipe for success. This game against the Jaguars is a good opportunity for the offense to get back on track. The Titans were well balanced against the Jags earlier this season, passing and rushing for 184 yards for a total of 368 yards.
Defensively, let’s see if the bye week has given the pass rush unit fresh legs. Having spent a lot of time on the field the last two games, it was not the same relentless pressure we had seen from the defense the first 10 games. They also have to deal with James Robinson in the back field, who rushed for 149 yards and a score against the Titans earlier this season.
The top of the AFC standings is crowded with several 8-4 teams, so no matter the opponent, each and every game will be critical the rest of the way. Big ball game Sunday afternoon at Nissan Stadium.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) @ Tennessee Titans (8-4)
Game Time: 12:00 pm CDT
Location: Nashville, TN (Nissan Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Spero Dedes, Jay Feely
Radio: Titans Radio, 104-5 The Zone
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Rhett Bryan
Referee: Bill Vinovich
Line: Tennessee -8.5
Over/ Under: 43.5
Attending the Game?
Charitable Drive: U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive
12th Titan: Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Winners
National Anthem: D’Corey Johnson
Halftime Performance: Callista Clark
Three Things to Watch
Turnover Battle – Heading into the Houston game three weeks ago, the Titans had a turnover ratio of +2 and were tied for 13th in the NFL. Nine turnovers later, Tennessee now finds themselves with a turnover ratio of -7 and tied for 27th in the league. While the Titans have dealt with the turnover bug the last two weeks, it has been an issue for Jacksonville throughout the season. The Jaguars are 31st in the NFL with a turnover ratio of -15. Jacksonville has had at least one turnover in all but one game this season and have had multiple turnovers in each of their last three games. Taking care of the football will be critical for both teams.
Which Team Has The Better Start – Both teams in this matchup have recently been victims of slow starts that have led to deficits. In their last four games for Jacksonville, which were all losses, the Jaguars have been outscored 37-6 in the first quarter. While not as much as an issue for Tennessee, the Titans have not scored a first quarter touchdown since October 24th against Kansas City. The Titans have gotten off to good starts against Jacksonville recently, scoring at least one first quarter touchdown in the last three meetings with the Jaguars. A strong start for the Titans could serve as a source of confidence while also energizing their home crowd at Nissan Stadium.
Building On The Run Game – Last time we saw the Titans on the field, D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard both rushed for over 100 yards, a feat that has not been accomplished by a pair of Titans running backs since Thanksgiving Day in 2008 when LenDale White and Chris Johnson both surpassed the century mark in Detroit. Now, did the Titans ultimately lose that game to New England? Yes, but that was by far the best outing for the Titans rushing attack since losing Derrick Henry to injury. Jacksonville has allowed a running back to surpass 100 or more rushing yards in three of their last four games, so let’s see if the Titans can get something going on the ground against the Jaguars.
Did You Know?
- The Titans have had recent success putting points up in bunches when playing Jacksonville. During their current four game winning streak against the Jaguars, the Titans have scored 143 total points, averaging nearly 36 points a game during that stretch. With a 10-2 record against Jacksonville in the last 12 matchups, Tennessee has scored 30 or more points in eight of the 10 victories.
- For as important as the bye week was to the Titans this season, it seems they have typically taken advantage of the break in years past. Mike Vrabel is 3-0 as the Titans head coach after a bye week and the Titans have won their last five games following an off week dating back to 2016. A 14-13 loss to Buffalo coming off a Week 4 bye in 2015 was the last Titans loss following a week of rest.
- It is probably not a balance that the Titans prefer, but total yards gained by the offense and total yards allowed by the defense is separated by a single yard through 12 games. The Titans have gained 4,250 yards on offense, an average of 354.2 per game, and have allowed 4,249 yards to their opponents, an average of 354.1 per game.