The Jaguars and the Titans both desperately need to win on Sunday in Nashville to keep their playoff dreams alive. At 4-6, the Jaguars are two games back in both the wildcard and divisional race. At 5-5, the Titans are just one game back.
The Jaguars smoked the Titans in week three in front of a national television audience by a score of 20-7. But in 2017 and 2018, the Titans swept the Jaguars, beating them four consecutive times. It wouldn't be a stretch to say this is the most bitter rivalry for the Jaguars.
Despite beating the Titans with ease in week three, the Jaguars are a three point underdog against the Titans in week 12.
Whichever club wins this game will move ahead in the standings. If the Titans win, they'll move to 6-5 and have a real shot to compete down the stretch. But if the Jaguars win, both teams will have a record of 5-6, and with the Jaguars winning both head-to-head meetings, the Jaguars would own the tiebreaker. Should the Jaguars fall to 4-7, they can kiss their playoff chances goodbye.
The Jaguars' run defense is reeling. Under Todd Wash's direction, they have allowed over 200 yards rushing in two consecutive contests. On the year, Jacksonville has allowed 5.3 yards per attempt on the ground, the worst mark in the NFL. The Jaguars are 4-0 when they hold teams to under 100 yards rushing and 0-6 when they allow over 100 yards on the ground.
The Titans have been a middle of the road team when it comes to rushing the ball this year, averaging 113 yards per game on the ground. But recent history suggests that the Titans could take advantage of the Jaguars with Derrick Henry — a Jacksonville native — and company. Henry has embarrassed the Jaguars' defense on more than one occasion in his young career.
The Jaguars have lost two consecutive games. Oddly enough, the Jaguars' entire season to this point can be broken down into two game streaks. The Jaguars lost their first two games against the Chiefs and Texans. They then beat the Titans and Broncos. After that, they lost to the Panthers and Saints. Jacksonville then took down the Jets and Bengals before losing two straight divisional games to the Texans and Colts. Now, the Jaguars are due for a two game winning streak. Right?
Surprisingly, the Titans are in the bottom third of the league in pass defense. But they're staunch defenders against the run. So, Nick Foles will need to rebound in a big way after an ugly return to the field against the Colts last week. He needs to make better decisions and deliver balls with more accuracy. It wouldn't hurt his cause if his offensive line could give him just a bit more time.
Speaking of the offensive line . . . Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor have struggled two keep their QB clean in recent weeks. Robinson has allowed six pressures in two of the past three games. And Jawaan Taylor allowed four pressures last week. Nick Foles and his offensive line will need to be in sync for the Jaguars to win this one.
On the flip side, the Titans' offensive line is no longer the unit they once were. The Titans have given up the most sacks in the NFL this season with 42. The Jaguars will need to attack the Titans in the passing game to create big play opportunities on the defensive side of the ball. Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue have combined for six sacks in the last three weeks and will need to be a factor.
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