Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Our scouting report, score prediction
Considering the news off the field for the Tennessee Titans this week, it's been pretty easy to forget another game awaits.
The Titans (7-5) host the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) in an AFC South showdown from Nissan Stadium on Sunday (noon, CBS), just days after making the shocking decision to fire general manager Jon Robinson midway through his seventh season. Robinson's firing has huge implications for the team's future, but in the present the roster he built will try to end a two-game losing streak and put the Titans within striking distance of locking up the division for the third straight year.
These aren't the same doormat Jaguars the Titans have become accustomed to playing in recent seasons. The Jags boast an above-average offense and a stingy run defense that could create problems for the Titans if they don't correct some of the issues that cropped in back-to-back losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. Still, the Titans should be able to minimize mistakes and control the game.
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Here is The Tennessean's scouting report and score prediction for Sunday's game:
Titans offense vs. Jaguars defense
The Titans need to fix their running game. Derrick Henry hasn't rushed for 100 yards in four games. Over those four games, Tennessee is averaging 3.1 yards per carry, compared to 4.6 yards per carry in the first eight games of the season. These issues have tanked the Titans' red zone efficiency, set the passing offense up in too many third-and-longs and made it nearly impossible for the Titans to sustain drives.
Jacksonville's rush defense has been excellent. The Jags allow the seventh-fewest yards per carry in the NFL and have only allowed 100-yard rushers in two games this season. But the flip side is a porous pass defense, allowing the third-most pass yards per game and seventh-most pass yards per attempt.
It's possible the Titans can treat the Jaguars the way they did the Green Bay Packers and come out throwing. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been better than he gets credit for this season, ranking top-10 in the NFL in passer rating, yards per attempt, adjusted net yardage per attempt and interception percentage. But if the Titans can keep Tannehill hot while also getting Henry going, this can be a huge advantage area.
Titans defense vs. Jaguars offense
Jacksonville's offense is dynamic. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is coming into his own; he's completed 72% of his passes for 994 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four games. Running back Travis Etienne is averaging 5.6 yards per carry since Week 6. The Jags don't give up many sacks, don't turn the ball over much and are in the top half of the league in first downs per game.
Of course, the Titans defense has had a way of making offenses one-dimensional this year. No defense has faced more pass attempts than the Titans this season, and only one defense has faced fewer rushes. Teams are content to throw on the Titans, who have allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns in the NFL and the second-most passing yards per game. But that comes with QB hits; the Titans have the fifth-most in football.
If the Philadelphia Eagles didn't want to run on the Titans, the Jaguars probably won't either. But the Jaguars don't have the same receiving threats the Eagles did, making this a friendlier matchup for a Titans defense that's been tasked with guarding superstars for the better part of the last month and a half.
Titans-Jaguars score prediction
Titans 27, Jaguars 23: It's usually smart to forecast lower-scoring games when the Titans are involved. But with two bad pass defenses battling in a game where the Titans figure to be a little desperate, this one feels like it could be higher scoring. Lawrence plays really well, but the veteran Titans outlast the ascendant Jaguars.
Nick Suss is the Titans beat writer for The Tennessean. Contact Nick at email@example.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.