The Tennessee Titans take one the Jacksonville Jaguars in a division matchup for the second consecutive week, looking to get a win.
Jaguars Pass Catchers vs. Titans Secondary/Linebackers
After a solid first six weeks, the Titans pass coverage came undone in last week’s loss to the Indianpolis Colts, getting tattooed by Andrew Luck for 353 yards and three touchdowns. This secondary always had talent deficiencies, but they were being put in positions to win for most of the season up until last week. What’s even more concerning is that our linebackers just can’t cover anyone. Avery Williamson got destroyed by Jack Doyle (I mean, c’mon) for the entirety of the game and couldn’t cover him at all on the most crucial play of the game. Tight ends and running backs have had a bunch of success through the air against our linebackers all year.
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All of this should signal that the Jaguars will have a big passing day, but that isn’t as much of a sure thing as it should be. Blake Bortles looks awful and he has torpedoed an offense that features a bevy of talent in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas. While Bortles has been bad, I’m still skeptical of our ability to limit their passing game playmakers. Robinson combined for 15 catches, 266 yards and three touchdowns in two games against us last year and Thomas caught a touchdown in each of those games. Robinson and Hurns haven’t been themselves, but I expect Thomas to have a big game because the Titans have shown no reason to believe they can cover a tight end. If Robinson and Hurns show up, we could be in for a long night.
Titans Offensive Line vs. Jaguars Defensive Line
The Titans offensive line has been one of the best units in all of football this season. They’ve kept Mariota upright way more than last season and have opened up gaping holes for the run game. The Jaguars have not been able to generate pressure, recording just one sack over the last two weeks. That lack of pressure has resulted in a lot of points being scored against them, as they’re giving up the seventh most points per game. They haven’t given up a ton of yardage, but they’re doing so in damaging situations.
I don’t expect Mariota to see the ground too often. With that said, I don’t expect DeMarco Murray to have a huge game. The Jaguars are middle of the pack in nearly all rush defense categories, but are only allowing 3.9 yards per carry. They haven’t faced a running game like the Titans’ yet, but I believe the passing game will need to do the heavy lifting in this one for the Titans.
Marcus Mariota vs. Jaguars Linebackers
After two straight weeks of using Mariota creatively and getting him on the run as a dynamic threat, the Titans reverted to the offense of mediocrity last week against one of the worst defenses in the league. He ran for just 14 yards and wasn’t used on many, if any, designed quarterback runs. Mariota’s legs were the key to the offensive explosion of weeks five and six, as he totaled over 120 rushing yards and kept defenses off balance with run/pass option plays that threatened defenses twofold.
The Jaguars linebacker group is an interesting bunch. Paul Posluszny is a run stopping thumper, but doesn’t have much speed. Dan Skuta isn’t very good and starts over Myles Jack for some reason. Telvin Smith is a dynamic defensive weapon, with speed to burn and plus coverage skills. I’d imagine Smith will play spy on Mariota for plenty of plays on Thursday night, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Titans bring back the option plays for this matchup. They need to get Mariota (if they choose to run him) away from Smith in order to exploit better one-on-one matchups. Some reason for optimism: Mariota ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns in two games against the Jaguars last year.