Posted on December 3, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The last time the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans met back in Week Three, both were seen as teams hoping to build off last season’s success. Fast forward to Week 14, and the conditions are drastically different. Jacksonville is playing strictly for pride and is struggling to remain relevant in playoff conversations.
That could mean one of two things for football fans Thursday night—the game will either be a complete stinker, or it just might be alright.
How good this game ends up being will depend on which version of the two teams show up to play. With Cody Kessler now starting at quarterback, the Jaguars will be no room for error (not that there ever was any when Blake Bortles was under center). To do better than the six points they put up against the Colts last week, the Jags will need more than error-free play.
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They are going to need Kessler to do more than just not lose the game for them. He needs to make a few plays. But if Kessler can’t hold up his end of the bargain, that means the Jags may need the defense to do a little scoring for them. Last season, the Jags recorded seven touchdowns on defense. This season, they have only one.
That doesn’t mean they are out of luck. The defense has looked nothing like the aggressive group of hard-hitting ballhawks that it was last year. However, last week, against the Indianapolis Colts, it did look like that dominant unit again. But will they show up again this week?
It may be even more interesting to see what version of Marcos Mariota shows up. At times this season he has looked inconsistent and struggled to get the offense moving (like in the first half against the Jets last week). But then there have been times where he has looked like a superstar as well (i.e., Week Four’s overtime against the Eagles; Week Ten’s dominant performance against New England).
But if he does struggle, the Titans defense should be able to limit the Jags Kessler-led offense. However, Jacksonville could give the Titans defense some trouble if they can get Leonard Fournette on track early on.
Back in Week Three, the Titans were led to a 9-6 win over the Jaguars by Marcus Mariota coming off the bench. He was able to move the ball against the Jaguars defense, but not enough to get it into the end zone. This time around, it will be hard for him to lead the Titans to touchdowns but not nearly as hard.
Tennessee’s offense is playing much better than it did back then. The run game is still hit or miss, but the passing game has been much more effective in recent weeks. It will not be super-effective this week. But with the Titans defense shutting down Cody Kessler, it will not need to be.
Take the Titans to win, straight up and against the spread (-4). As for the over/under, this one is easy—take the under.