You are using an old web browser. Such browsers do not support modern web technologies and do not offer proper security. Please update your browser or download one of the others suggested for free.
Mozilla Firefox |
Google Chrome |
Internet Explorer |
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans: Preview and Pick
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans: Preview and Pick
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the worst team in the National Football League and they are hoping that the bye week will be just what they need to get their first win of the season. If they are going to win the Jaguars will have to travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans who are riding high after a win against the St. Louis Rams. The Titans played so well behind Chris Johnson who is running the ball with authority again this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans Odds
The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Titans listed as a double digit favorite. They are listed as (-14) point favorites and the public is still willing to drop two touchdowns to the lowly Jaguars as over 60 percent of the early wagering is on the Titans. That number is starting to dip and can now be found at (-13) at the top rated online sportsbooks.
The Titans do well when they can run the ball. Chris Johnson gained 108 of his 152 rushing yards before first contact Sunday. Johnson hadn't gained 100 total rushing yards in a game this season. Johnson gained 6.5 yards per rush outside the tackles Sunday, his highest average in a game this season and more than double his season average (2.9 yards per rush). Both of Johnson's rush touchdowns Sunday were from inside the red zone. Johnson had the most red zone rushes (17) without a rushing touchdown this season entering the game. The Jaguars will have no means of stopping the run or the Titans offense.
If the Titans lose to Jacksonville it will be a major upset.
The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that it is highly unlikely that the Jaguars actually win this game. Jacksonville is 0-5 straight up in its last 5 games on the road and 1-6 against the spread (ATS) in its last 7 games on the road. Jacksonville is 0-5 straight up in its last 5 games and 1-8 ATS in its last 9 games overall. Tennessee is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games at home, but they are 3-5-1 ATS in its last 9 games at home and 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Jacksonville. The total has gone under in 5 of Tennessee's last 7 games when playing Jacksonville and the total has gone over in 4 of Tennessee's last 5 games at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
The Titans are back at .500 and very much in the playoff hunt heading into the second half of the season.
Next up is a game against the winless Jaguars, who have been outscored 264-86, are ranked last in offense and 27th in defense.
A quick history lesson for anyone who thinks the Titans (4-4) might take the Jaguars (0-8) lightly: In December 2011, the Titans lost to the then 0-13 Colts.
“We have to look at this game totally different,” safety Michael Griffin said Monday. “That was late in the season, and it is one of those games where if we’d have won, we would’ve went to the playoffs that year. We can’t look at this team any different than any other team. We don’t want them to get their first win against us.”
Last season the Jaguars finished 2-14. One of their wins was against the Titans.
After playing the Jaguars, the Titans face the AFC South-leading Colts on Nov. 14 at LP Field.
“No one’s going to be looking ahead,” cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “The Jaguars beat us last year. … We know we can’t take anyone lightly. The Jaguars are going to be looking for a win, so they’re going to play hard.”
Lofty goal: Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey isn’t backing down from his goal of 19 sacks this season.
Why 19? It would be a new NFL record for sacks in a season by a defensive tackle.
Titans defensive assistant/pass rush specialist Keith Millard holds the record. He had 18 sacks for the Vikings in 1989.
“I am going to get to 19. I am going to try and get to 19, that’s for sure,” Casey said with a smile. “And I’m not going to stop until I get there. If it’s not this year, for sure, next year — I am going to keep pushing until I get there.”
Casey had two sacks against the Rams and leads the Titans with six. That puts him on pace for 12 this season.
Coach Mike Munchak called Casey the team’s most consistent pass rusher.
“I am excited about how he is playing,” Munchak said. “He is a complete player and he loves to play. … He works at it every day, and he’s having a great year.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Casey already has 30 disruptions — way ahead of last year — on 248 pass-rush attempts. Last season he had only 13 disruptions on 392 attempts.
“I need to have more games with multiple sacks and make multiple disruptions,” Casey said. “I just want to keep it going.”
Injuries: Griffin (quad) and right tackle David Stewart (shoulder) are expected to play against the Jaguars after sitting out the win over the Rams.
Middle linebacker Moise Fokou (knee) has missed two games in a row but sounded uncertain about his status for this week’s game.
Said Munchak: “I know he hopes to play, but it’s hard to tell. We know he’ll be back soon … but we have to evaluate what’s best for him.”
The Titans were pleased to rush last week for a season-high 198 yards on 35 carries, including 150 yards and two touchdowns by Chris Johnson. Tennessee wants to keep building its rushing stats and believes Shonn Greene, who had nine carries, 38 yards, one TD and one catch for 28 yards, in his most action this season will help with that. Greene appears to have recovered from the knee injury he suffered in the season-opener.
Tennessee’s has held five of eight opponents to 21 points or less this season. Alterraun Verner has four interceptions, and Jurrell Casey has a team-best six sacks.
Jacksonville is in transition under first-year head coach Gus Bradley, who spent the past four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. The Jaguars still have Maurice Jones-Drew at running back, but recently suspended 2012 first-round pick WR Justin Blackmon. Chad Henne, who started both games against Tennessee last season, has started five of the eight games this season, and 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert has started three games.
The 2008 Detroit Lions were the worst team in the history of the NFL. It is a hard point to argue against considering no other team has played a 16-game scheduled and failed to win at least once. But when the 2013 regular season ends, there may be another contender for that title.
At 0-8, the Jacksonville Jaguars emerge from their bye week halfway to matching the ’08 Lions’ loss total and they’ve done it in unspectacular fashion. A 19-9 loss at Oakland in week 2 is the only game the Jags have played within ten points. The ’08 Lions teased fans with a number of tantalizingly close games, including a two point loss in Minnesota in which Dan Orlovsky ran out the back of his own end zone. It is likely the play that defined the Lions ’08 season.
There is no play that defines the Jaguars season to date because there just hasn’t been a single play relevant enough to draw that kind of attention. For now, they’re just an ugly team playing ugly football in ugly helmets.
For all the futility of the ’08 Lions, the ’13 Jaguars just might be worse. They have managed to score fewer points per game while allowing more per game than their potential 0-16 counterparts.
Points Per Game
2008 Lions: 16.8
2013 Jaguars: 10.8
Advantage: ’08 Lions by 6 points per game
Points Allowed Per Game
2008 Lions: 32.3
2013 Jaguars: 33.0
Advantage: ’08 Lions by 0.7 points per game
You thought the ’08 Lions were bad? These Jags have been worse by almost a touchdown per game.
That’s a simple approach, but Jaguars players said Wednesday afternoon that’s the approach to which they must return as preparations begin for the second half of the season.
Not the recent distractions. Not the recent bye week.
Not who’s not playing.
And not even the team’s record through eight games.
“Hopefully, we got our rest and time away,” quarterback Chad Henne said Wednesday as the Jaguars (0-8) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (4-4) at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Now, it’s a new season. We’ll try to treat it one game at a time and hopefully, we’ll start out with a win.”
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said while some teams with similar records might be down or disillusioned, he has seen no signs of that with this team.
“The morale is up,” Jones-Drew said. “We feel like we did some great things two weeks ago (in a loss to San Francisco). We just couldn’t capitalize. …
“I’ve been on teams that were 8-8 and you come in after a loss and guys are moping around. That’s not how it is here. We understand where we are and what we have to do. No one’s backing down from that challenge.”
Henne agreed that morale and attitude remains positive despite the record.
“I’ve said since I got here (before the 2012 season), ‘These guys have a great attitude each and every day,’’’ Henne said. “No matter the situation, everybody comes out to practice, practices hard, fights to the end and has good energy out there on the practice field.”
The Jaguars lost to the 49ers, 42-10, and lost the previous week, 24-6, to the San Diego Chargers. Those losses came after two consecutive games – losses in St. Louis and Denver – in which players and coaches felt overall the team had played better than at the beginning of the season.
The feeling after the 49ers and Chargers losses was opposite, and players said Sunday a major task is to get back to the feeling of improvement felt early in the season.
And, of course, to win.
“It’d be awesome,” Jones-Drew said. “Where we are now, it makes you respect wins more … Things happen for a reason. Obviously, going 0-8 happened. We have to go play the Titans and do whatever we can to get the right results.”
Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the team’s most-productive offensive player through eight games, won’t play again this season, having been suspended indefinitely on the Friday of last week’s bye week. Coaches and players discussed that topic Monday, and as preparations began Wednesday for Tennessee, players said the focus was on the future.
“The guys are still hungry,” Henne said. “We have eight games left. You can go 8-8 or you can go the other way and go 0-8. If you do go 8-8, there is that possibility you can sneak into the playoffs. I’m not saying we’re looking that far ahead, but – one game at a time. If we can take care of what we need to take care of, who knows what can happen?”
Coaches spent much of last week in “self-scout” mode, analyzing offense, defense and special teams in a more detailed manner than is possible on a normal game week.
“I think it’s definitely a fresh start,” Henne said. “We looked at what we did well and what we did poorly. We’ll try to correct what we did poorly and come out with a new attitude and try to win some games.
“Getting better, that’s our mindset, but we’re still competing and we definitely want that taste of a win. If we do get that first win, maybe they’ll come in bunches.”
If Kendall Wright doubles what he’s done in the first half of the year for the Tennessee Titans, he’s going to have a pretty big season.
That would put him at 86 catches for 1,004 yards.
I expect the Titans will get him more than 5.4 catches a game going forward. He’s very good on crossing routes and stuff in the middle of the field, but I think they will continue to look for ways to get him the ball, and there may be more opportunity along the boundary.
"He's playing very well, he's consistent," said Matt Williamson, ESPN.com's resident scout. "Clearly, he's Jake Locker's favorite guy. What I don't understand is why they don't use him more deep downfield. At Baylor with [Robert Griffin III], he was a big-time bomb threat and he certainly has wheels."
When Wright wasn’t a starter when the season began, the Titans emphasized they had three guys they expected to be close in snaps as the season unfolded. Kenny Britt’s disappeared from that group, but the top guy is clear and it's Wright.
Here’s a look at five key Jaguars topics against the Tennessee Titans . . .
1. No. 1 again.
Cecil Shorts III began the season as the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver. That was because Justin Blackmon was suspended for the first four games of the season. That was temporary, but with Blackmon suspended indefinitely, Shorts’ status as the go-to receiver is permanent – at least for the remainder of the regular season. Shorts had 26 receptions for 337 yards in the first four games without Blackmon, but also had four dropped passes and quarterbacks had trouble getting him involved enough early. How ready is Shorts to reassume the primary role? That’s a big issue for the offense moving forward.
2. Is Robinson ready?
The Jaguars moved rookie Denard Robinson into the No. 2 running back role against the San Francisco 49ers just before the bye, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said that remains Robinson’s status. The team has been trying to best take advantage of Robinson’s speed and breakaway ability, having tried him at kickoff returns and wide receiver in the preseason, as well as Wildcat quarterback early in the season. He rushed for 15 yards on four carries against San Francisco, and it appears running back is where the Jaguars feel he can be most effective. How ready is he for this role? That will be a major topic as the Jaguars meet the media Wednesday.
3. Committee time again.
Blackmon’s suspension has ramifications throughout the offense. That’s particularly true at receiver, where not only does Shorts move into the No. 1 role, but first-year veteran Mike Brown moves into a starting role opposite Shorts. It also will mean more repetitions for third-year veteran Stephen Burton and a larger role in the slot for rookie Ace Sanders. The offense struggled with Blackmon out early. The Jaguars need a receiver or two other than Shorts to be able to handle a bigger role than they did early in the season.
4. Wrapping up.
Bradley has talked a lot about missed tackles leading to big plays, something that was particularly noticeable the last two games before the bye. With Titans running back Chris Johnson being one of the most dangerous breakaway runners in the NFL, tackling – and the need to be better and more consistent – is going to be a key topic Wednesday.
5. Breakthrough time.
The Jaguars are 0-8 at the bye and have lost by double digits in each of the first eight games. Bradley has been adept at keeping the focus within the team on improving by the week. That has been the overriding goal and will remain that way. But with Tampa Bay the only other winless team in the NFL at the season’s midway point, the focus on the team’s record will get stronger until the Jaguars get a victory.
The Tennessee Titans used a rejuvenated ground game to help them win their first contest in a month.
A matchup against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars and their dreadful run defense could help them climb into the playoff conversation.
Tennessee tries to move over .500 Sunday against the visiting Jaguars, who have yet another obstacle to overcome with Justin Blackmon suspended again.
The Titans (4-4) ended a three-game losing streak with a needed 28-21 win at St. Louis last Sunday. Chris Johnson, averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per carry, turned in a vintage performance with 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns as Tennessee compiled a season-high 198 yards on the ground.
The Titans averaged 80.3 run yards during their skid after averaging 119.8 yards on the ground in their first four.
"That's our formula to win. The running game really is what made it happen," coach Mike Munchak said. "Any offense wants to be able to do that. If we can control the line of scrimmage, get the running game going like that, it just opens up a lot of things."
Sitting just outside the AFC wild-card picture, the Titans are two games behind South-leading Indianapolis. They host the Colts in what sets up as a crucial matchup in Week 11 following this contest.
"This is the meat of the deal with two division games in 10 days," Munchak said. "You win the next one then the next one becomes an even bigger game. We know we have to make our move, and (last Sunday) was part of that. We needed that in a big way, and we got it. Now it's Jacksonville."
The Titans have to like their chances of keeping things going against the Jaguars (0-8), who have surrendered an NFL-worst 161.8 rushing yards per contest and league-high 13 rushing TDs.
Jacksonville, giving up a league-high 33.0 points per game, is also last with an average of 10.8 points. Things aren't about to get any easier without Blackmon, who was suspended indefinitely for his latest violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy last Friday, his third offense in roughly 18 months.
The second-year wideout hauled in 29 catches for 415 yards and a touchdown during a four-game stretch after serving a four-game suspension to open the year. Blackmon will be eligible to apply for reinstatement prior to the start of the 2014 season.
"It was disappointing ... for him and for our team to find out the information," coach Gus Bradley said. "I think for me right now, the best thing for us and our organization is we're focusing on our team and the tasks that we have in front of us."
Off to their worst start in franchise history, the Jaguars haven't played since a 42-10 rout at the hands of San Francisco in London on Oct. 27. Maurice Jones-Drew compiled a season-high 122 yards from scrimmage but Jacksonville was gashed for 221 on the ground.
"We really need to take a look at it, whether it's missed tackles, missed assignments, or execution," Bradley said. "For whatever reason, we did not play things correctly and we need to find out why."
While things haven't gone their way, the Jaguars come out of their bye with a surprising sense of optimism.
"Hopefully, we got our rest and time away," quarterback Chad Henne told the team's official website. "Now, it's a new season. We'll try to treat it one game at a time and hopefully, we'll start out with a win.
"The guys are still hungry. We have eight games left. You can go 8-8 or you can go the other way and go 0-8. ... If we can take care of what we need to take care of, who knows what can happen."
Henne will likely need to step up if Jacksonville hopes to get on track. The sixth-year quarterback has averaged 265.0 yards while throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions in five starts.
Henne also had a rough time during his last visit to Tennessee, throwing three interceptions - two of which were brought back for touchdowns by linebacker Zach Brown - in a 38-20 loss Dec. 30. Tennessee has taken four of five from the Jaguars at home.
Jacksonville has lost 13 straight and 20 of 21 dating to last season, with its lone win coming 24-19 over the Titans on Nov. 25.
As if the Jacksonville Jaguars hadn't suffered quite enough.
Already deep in the ignominy of an 0-8 start to 2013, the Jaguars lost one of their few bright spots after an apparent recurrence of the personal demons of Justin Blackmon.
The Oklahoma State product was the fifth overall selection in the 2012 draft and showed significant glimpses of talent as a rookie while making 64 catches for 865 yards - including an 81-yarder - and scoring five times during an admittedly inglorious 2-14 debut.
And while the 2013 forecasts didn't call for drastically more victories, it was assumed that whatever offensive firepower Jacksonville possessed this year would either involve Blackmon, fellow wideout Cecil Shorts or veteran Maurice Jones-Drew.
It'll be the latter two for what remains of the schedule after Blackmon was suspended indefinitely by the league after a third violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. He'd already been forced to sit out the opening four games this year and had made 29 catches for 415 yards and a score in a brief four-week return.
Now, he won't play until at least 2014, which is when he can apply to the league for reinstatement.
"It was disappointing for him and for our team to find out the information," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "For me right now, the best thing for us and our organization is we're focusing on our team and the tasks that we have in front of us."
This week, that means a visit to Tennessee' LP Field on Sunday.
Jacksonville last played two weeks ago in London, where it was routed, 42-10, by the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
"We really need to take a look at it, whether it's missed tackles, missed assignments or execution," Bradley said. "We did not play things correctly and we need to find out why."
In that game, the aforementioned Jones-Drew - in his eighth season with the Jaguars - ran for 75 yards and caught six passes for 47 more in a season-best performance. Problem was, Jacksonville's defense allowed a whopping 221 on the ground, its second-worst total in eight games.
Nonetheless, the appearance of hope still lingers.
"We got our rest and time away," quarterback Chad Henne said. "It's a new season. We'll try to treat it one game at a time and hopefully, we'll start out with a win. The guys are still hungry."
Henne has started five times and appeared in seven games this season while, for practical purposes, wresting the starting QB job away from Blaine Gabbert. Henne has thrown for two TDs and five interceptions in his five starts, in which he's averaged 265 yards per game.
He faced the Titans last season as well and threw three INTs, two of which were returned for scores, in a 38-20 loss in Nashville.
"We have eight games left," Henne said. "You can go 8-8 or you can go the other way and go 0-8. If we can take care of what we need to take care of, who knows what can happen."
While the Jaguars are hoping to salvage a positive end to the season, their Week 10 hosts are still playing for a trifle more than just the ability to smile when looking in the mirror.
A 28-21 win at St. Louis last week ended a three-game losing streak and perhaps signaled the reawakening of running back Chris Johnson, a former 2,000-yard star who busted loose for 150 of the Titans' season-best 198 rush yards against the Rams.
Johnson had been averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per carry and the team had logged just 80.3 yards rushing per game after opening the year with a 119.8 averaging in the initial four.
Jacksonville, incidentally, is the league's worst rush defense (161.8 yards per game) and has allowed a league-high 13 rush TDs in eight games.
"That's our formula to win," coach Mike Munchak said. "The running game really is what made it happen.Any offense wants to be able to do that. If we can control the line of scrimmage, get the running game going like that, it just opens up a lot of things."
Tennessee is a solid second in the AFC South Division, two games behind the front-running Indianapolis Colts, whom they'll face in Week 11's Thursday game. The Titans are a half-game behind the New York Jets, whom they've already beaten this season, in the race for the final conference wild card playoff spot.
"This is the meat of the deal with two division games in 10 days," Munchak said. "You win the next one then the next one becomes an even bigger game. We know we have to make our move, and (beating the Rams) was part of that. We needed that in a big way, and we got it. Now it's Jacksonville."
It's all right there in the statistics. The Titans consider the run game their key element toward success. The Jaguars' inability to stop the run game has been among myriad elements that have prevented them from having success. Put the two together on Tennessee's home field while the visitors may be hung over from the loss of a teammate and it could be another big day for CJ2K.
Crank up the old engine.
When a team is 0-8, it goes to great lengths to find positives on which to build. In this case, the Jaguars do still have a guy in Jones-Drew who's been among the league's best for several years. He had his best game of the year in his last start, and the Titans are 26th in the league when it comes to stopping the run. Hope springs eternal.