Since an epic week two showdown in Nashville, the Jaguars and Titans have walked divergent paths. Despite Gardner Minshew's best effort, the Titans emerged victorious over the Jaguars on September 20th. Fast forward nearly three months, and as the Jaguars prepare to take on their fiercest rival once again, Tennessee holds the top spot in the AFC South at 8-4, while lowly Jacksonville boasts a record of 1-11.
As has been the case for most of the season, injuries will be a significant factor for the Jaguars in week 14. Their best offensive lineman, center Brandon Linder, is out this week. Outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (hamstring), tight end Tyler Eifert (shoulder), cornerback Sidney Jones (achilles), and cornerback Greg Mabin (hamstring) are all questionable to play. On defense, they're without Josh Allen, DaVon Hamilton, and CJ Henderson, who are on IR.
The Stiff Arm
The Jaguars' defense has been preparing all week for the league's most lethal stiff arm. Derrick Henry, one of the most dominant high school players to ever come through North East Florida, has terrorized the Jaguars and the rest of the NFL with his fearsome running style for the last several years. In 2020, King Henry leads the NFL in rushing, is second in rushing touchdowns, and has forced 51 missed tackles. The Jaguars did a number on Dalvin Cook last week in Minnesota, but slowing down Henry, who weighs in at 247 pounds, will be an entirely different challenge.
Rookie running back James Robinson isn't the household name that Derrick Henry is, but the undrafted free agent has been the lone consistent driving force for the Jaguars' offense in 2020. He's third in the league in rushing, fourth in scrimmage yards, and has scored nine touchdowns for the Jags. When Robinson is at his best, which he usually is, the Jaguars can play competitive football. His vision and ability to make the first defender miss has made him one of the most steady runners in the game today.
The Jaguars' coaching staff keeps going back to the well with Mike Glennon. Head coach Doug Marrone insists that he believes Glennon gives the team the best chance to win. Whether that's true or not can certainly be debated, but the fact of the matter is that Glennon is going to play. The veteran QB has shown a penchant for completing deep passes down the field but hasn't done much else during his stint in Jacksonville. He's a lumbering mover, so he struggles to escape pressure. And Glennon has undoubtedly made his fair share of poor decisions throwing the ball. He's gotten lucky a handful of times over the last few weeks, but the Titans' defense might cash in on a few turnovers from Glennon in this one.
Never Tell Me the Odds
The Titans are 7.5 point favorites in this one. While their record is impressive, a deeper dive shows a team that has struggled to an extent over the last couple of months. After jumping out to a 5-0 record, the Titans are just 3-4 in their previous seven contests. The Jaguars have lost 11 straight but have been competitive in four of their last five losses. The Titans have owned the Jaguars in recent years, winning eight of the last ten matchups between the two clubs. It'd be easy to pick the Titans to cover in this one, but outside of the loss to the Steelers, the Jaguars haven't been outscored by more than four points since October 25th, and they played the Titans close in week two, falling by a final score of 33-30.
For the coaching staff and players, winning is the number one goal. But for the long term future of this franchise, evaluating the talent that's here is paramount over the final four games of 2020. On offense, you want to see Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, James Robinson, and DJ Chark continue to grow. And the two tackles on offense, Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor, haven't been great in pass protection this season, so seeing them improve there would be an encouraging development. On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars have lost many of their young talents to injury. So a lot of what you'll see today and down the stretch isn't exactly the product you'll see on the field in 2021. Still, young defenders like K'Lavon Chaisson, Doug Costin, Luq Barcoo, and Josiah Scott have something to prove. And Dawuane Smoot, who's in a contract year, will look to continue to rack up the sacks and pressures.
Another Kicking Change
The Jaguars waived kicker Chase McLaughlin this week and brought up Aldrick Rosas to kick in his place. Rosas is familiar with kicking for the Jags 2020, having been the team's primary kicker in week four and week 12. He's made six of eight FG attempts for the Jaguars, including two of three from 50+.
The Jaguars are in position to select at number two overall in the 2021 draft. They have a one-game buffer, so winning today wouldn't knock them out of the two spot. In front of the Jaguars, the Jets hold the number one pick and take on the Seahawks in Seattle. Should the Jets win, the Jaguars would overtake the Jets for the top spot in the draft with a loss to the Titans. Behind the Jaguars are the Bengals and Cowboys. They face off today in Cincy, so one of them will likely fall back in the race for the top spot with a win. The Chargers, who host the Falcons today, are also in the mix with a record of 3-9
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