Titans vs Jaguars preview

If the playoffs started today, the AFC South would be represented by three teams — the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans would be a fifth seed and the Jaguars the sixth, emphasizing both the competitiveness in the division and the importance of their Veterans Day matchup. Tennessee (6-2, 2-1) currently has a one-game lead and a tiebreaker advantage over Jacksonville (5-3, 1-2) in the division.
The Jaguars are completing a three-game road trip this week. Last week they were torched by the Saints 41-24 as Drew Brees lit them up for 445 yards and three touchdowns. The Titans are coming off a 20-7 win over the Panthers.
Field: grass. Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 68°. Wind S 5-10 mph.
Jacksonville Scouting Report:
Offense — The Jags haven’t changed, they remain a run-first team, and are ranked only 25th in passing. QB David Garrard has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain but has returned to practice this week. If Garrard can’t play, the Titans will face Quinn Gray, who was 1-1 the last two weeks.
RB Fred Taylor needs just 13 yards rushing to reach the 10,000 yard plateau. He’s still the starter, but Maurice Jones-Drew gets almost as many carries and the pair is arguably the second-best running back duo in the league. Their combined rushing averages an impressive 4.8 yards per carry and the Jags are fifth in the league running the ball (139 ypg).
Jacksonville hasn’t had a standout receiver since Jimmy Smith retired. WR Reggie Williams had Jacksonville’s first 100-yard receiving game of the year last week. Dennis Northcutt is the leading receiver with just 23 catches for 323 yards. The Jaguars also spread the ball around to Ernest Wilford, Matt Jones and deep threat Paul Broussard.
The Jags have had to reshuffle their offensive line after losing their best lineman, RG Chris Naeole, who was placed on IR and replaced by reserve Dennis Norman, who has both shoulder and ankle injuries.
Defense — Jacksonville is 16th in rushing defense (108 ypg) and 26th against the pass (246 ypg), but they’re stingy in the red zone, ranking ninth in scoring defense (18.9 ppg).
DT Marcus Stroud, who has been a pain for the Titans over the years, is serving a suspension and has been replaced by massive Grady Jackson, whom the Titans faced earlier this year vs the Falcons. DT John Henderson left practice on a cart Thursday and his status is uncertain. RDE Paul Spicer is the Jags’ pass-rushing specialist.
SS Sammy Knight and MLB Mike Peterson lead the team in tackles.
CB Brian Williams has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Rashean Mathis, who went to the Pro Bowl last year, mans the other corner.
Special teams — Punter Adam Podlesh had a 76-yard punt earlier this year. Veteran John Carney has replaced familiar face Josh Scobee as the kicker. The dangerous Jones-Drew is probably the second-best kick returner in the league and Northcutt is the punt returner.
Matchups to watch: Each team’s run offense against the other’s run defense. It will be a slugfest all game long.
Keys for the Titans: Tennessee must win the battles on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, they must be more efficient in the red zone and they must not give up a big play on a turnover or special teams.
Last meeting: The Titans rushed for 282 yards, 175 by Chris Brown, to defeat the Jaguars 13-10 in Week One. Norm Chow used three- and four-receiver sets to spread the Jaguars out and pound them inside. What wrinkles will he add to that this week?
Prediction: This game will see both teams try to run and stop the run. In what looks to be a low-scoring contest, the Titans have several advantages in their favor, and it doesn’t help Jacksonville that they’ve struggled defensively recently.
Tennessee 16
Jacksonville 10
To read more about the game and the Jaguars from their point of view, check out Jaguars Journal here on MVN. For those who are interested in it, they’ll be liveblogging the game Sunday.

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