The Jaguars and Titans week 12 matchup is a battle of two teams in full desperation mode. Earlier this year, the Jaguars put the hurt on the Titans in Jacksonville. But prior to that, the Titans had beaten the Jaguars four consecutive times. Now, both teams are fighting for their lives. Whichever team emerges victorious on Sunday afternoon, will have a leg up in the playoff race.
Individual matchups — as always — will play a big part in this battle between two arch-rivals.
Ronnie Harrison vs Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry has run through, around, and past the Jaguars' defense during his short time in the NFL. But in week three, the Jaguars held Derrick Henry to 44 yards on 17 carries — an average of 2.6 yards per carry. A big part of that strong effort against the run was Ronnie Harrison. The Jaguars' young safety racked up ten total tackles. He'll need to be a force against the run once again this week. But things aren't trending in the right direction for this matchup. Derrick Henry has averaged over 100 yards rushing over the last four games, and his worst effort in that span was 63 yards against Carolina. On the opposite side of the ball, the Jaguars have surrendered over 200 yards rushing in two straight games. The Jaguars need their entire defense to play more physically against the run. If their front can do their job, it should allow Ronnie Harrison to roll downhill against the run and have another high impact game.
Jawaan Taylor vs Cameron Wake
Old against young: Cameron Wake is old enough to be Jawaan Taylor's dad. With a 16 year age gap, these two players are on the far opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to experience. But there is talent on both sides. Cameron Wake hasn't recorded a sack since week one, but he's been generating pressure fairly consistently. Wake regularly lines up on the defensive left side, so he'll look to take advantage of Taylor's inexperience. Overall, Jawaan Taylor has played very well for a rookie thrust into the starting lineup from day one, but if the Jaguars hope to have a more functional offense this week, he'll need to have a clean game. Taylor has gotten better throughout the season when it comes to penalties — he's picked up just two flags in the last five weeks.
DJ Chark vs Logan Ryan
DJ Chark MUST win this matchup. The Jaguars' young receiver was just about the only bright spot for the Big Cats on offense last week. And he's one of the most consistent and explosive receivers in the NFL this year. The league leader in touchdown catches, Chark will look to take advantage of a Titans' secondary that's missing one of their top cornerbacks. With Malcolm Butler on IR, Logan Ryan will see plenty of DJ Chark. Ryan hasn't been great this year, allowing a completion percentage of 64. Foles and Chark will need to connect early and often to help get the Jaguars' offense back on track.
Cam Robinson vs Harold Landry
This may be the most crucial matchup when it comes to the Jaguars' offense staying on the field and getting some longer drives going. It's easy to come out and say, "Cam Robinson isn't doing enough on the left side to be a building block moving forward." It's true that right now, Robinson isn't performing with enough consistency. But after an offseason recovering from a torn ACL, Robinson wasn't afforded any time to work on his craft. It's essentially his second year still. But for the Jaguars to make a run at the playoffs, they'll need Robinson to improve. Last week he allowed six pressures and a sack against the Colts. On the other side, Harold Landry is coming into his own. The 2018 second-round pick has registered seven sacks this season and creates a ton of pressure. Can Cam Robinson hold his own?
Nick Foles vs Kevin Byard
Kevin Byard has tortured the Jaguars in the past. The ball-hawking safety can wreck offensive game plans with his range and ball skills. In his first start since week one, Nick Foles chucked up several passes into double coverage that should have been picked — only one of those passes was actually intercepted. If Foles does the same thing again this week, Kevin Byard will make him pay. Foles has got to be aware of where the Titans' safeties are and make better decisions when throwing the ball down the field.
PS: The Jaguars need to at least TRY to run the ball in this one. A franchise-low, nine rushing attempts against the Colts last week was an embarrassment.
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