JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2018 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They keep the Titans' defense guessing. Jacksonville's game plan against the Patriots last Sunday was outstanding, passing 21 times on first down; quarterback Blake Bortles also got everyone involved. Even with the return of running back Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars must remain unpredictable on offense.
The Titans will win if: They can run. Tennessee averaged almost 150 yards rushing a game in two victories over Jacksonville last season. Jacksonville is the better team; the only way the Titans win is to force some turnovers and shorten the game with their running attack.
As Ballou sees it: Jaguars, 27-13. It will be hot again come game time and the Jaguars will get on the board early in the first quarter. Bortles will continue with his solid play and throw for two more touchdowns.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They force the Titans into a one-dimensional offensive game plan. With the nerve issues in Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota's elbow, backup Blaine Gabbert will be leading the Titans offense. He beat the Jaguars last season with the Cardinals. You know the saying: lightning never strikes in the same place twice. Offensively, the Jaguars need to spread the Titans out and stay aggressive – similar to what we saw against the Patriots.
The Titans will win if: They can make it an ugly, low-scoring game. They have to slow the game down by getting the run game going with Derrick Henry. Defensively, they need to pressure Bortles and create turnovers that will allow some short-field opportunities for their offense.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars are clearly the better team, and they are at home. They should be able to overwhelm the Titans' offense and create several turnovers. The Jaguars will win this game by at least 10 points, 31-10.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: If they maintain the energy/momentum in that building from a week ago. They will win if they continue to be creative offensively, to attack even when ahead. They will win if they harass Mariota or Gabbert consistently.
The Titans will win if: If they get pressure on Bortles and cover downfield, forcing Jacksonville out of its rhythm. The Titans also must run the ball to take time off the clock.
As Frangie sees it: The Jags are in good shape in this one. They have the better team, they are at home, they have momentum, they have found themselves offensively. Jacksonville should win comfortably.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: If they protect the football. The Titans defense is very solid with one of the NFL's better defensive tackles: Jurrell Casey. He can be a game-wrecker and must be neutralized. Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells, making his first start for the injured Cam Robinson, will have a tough matchup against veteran outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. The Jaguars should be confident after having a productive day against the Patriots last week but should not become overly aggressive against a low-scoring Tennessee team.
The Titans will win if: They can control the tempo with Henry and running back Dion Lewis. The Titans have injury issues at the tight end (Delanie Walker on injured reserve), offensive tackle (yes, both), and quarterback positions and have leaned heavily on the running game. Offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur last week even broke out the Wildcat with Henry running the show. Tennessee would also like to find a way to score on special teams as in each of its two games.
As Lageman sees it: The Jaguars will make it tough on the Titans offense to generate any kind of rhythm regardless of who the quarterback will be. It should not be difficult for the Jaguars to find motivation coming off the big victory over the Patriots with the Titans having won both games last year. There was plenty of conversation coming out of Tennessee in January about the legitimacy of the Jaguars' AFC South title last season. That talk will end Sunday afternoon.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They score 20 points. This is a game where the Jaguars offense can get on a roll and show that last week wasn't just a one-off thing. I can't see the Titans scoring 20 points on this Jaguars defense and Tennessee likes to make things ugly sometimes. Let it fly or run Fournette, but three touchdowns will mean victory for the Jaguars on Sunday.
The Titans will win if: They force Bortles into a big mistake. Bortles' only big mistake last week was offset by a huge play from defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. Tennessee will need one of those game-changing plays to win this game. If Bortles continues to take care of the ball and be efficient in the red zone, this game will be tough to get for the Titans.
As Martineau sees it: The Jaguars are going to win big Sunday. There's no doubt who the better team is, and the Jaguars even have the motivation. They are not happy about being swept by the Titans and the redemption tour of September 2018 will continue in blowout fashion 38-10 in favor of the Jags.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They can get a lead on the Titans, then force turnovers. The Jaguars last season were unable to get control of either matchup against Tennessee and therefore were unable to unleash the pass rush on Mariota. The Titans like to stay patient with Henry and a ball-control offense; if the Jaguars can get an early edge, the Titans won't be able to do that.
The Titans will win if: They frustrate the Jaguars' offense. The Jaguars never scored a meaningful offensive touchdown against Tennessee last season, with their two touchdowns in a 37-16 Week 2 loss coming after the Titans took a 30-3 lead and their lone touchdown in a 15-10 Week 17 loss coming when defensive end Yannick Ngakoue returned a fumble 67 yards to cut into what was then a 15-3 lead. The Jaguars need an early touchdown Sunday to break that trend.
As Oehser sees it: This will be a tight matchup. The Jaguars must avoid the penalties that plagued them in Week 2 against Tennessee last season, and they must figure a way to attack efficiently early as they did against New England last week. The guess here is that Bortles distributes the ball evenly to a slew of receivers and the Jaguars figure a way to protect a tight lead late.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They win the turnover battle. Mariota isn't healthy and Gabbert has thrown 44 interceptions in 50 games. The Titans' offense is struggling without Walker and two Pro Bowl tackles; giving them fewer possessions won't help. The Jaguars' 21 interceptions last season trailed only Baltimore's 22 and they were second in the NFL with 33 takeaways. It's time to get that going again; the Titans are the perfect team to ignite it against.
The Titans will win if: They can get Henry going downhill and keep the Jaguars defense from teeing off on Mariota and Gabbert. Henry averaged 6.6 yards per carry in Jacksonville last September and helped the Titans control the tempo of that game. The screen game counts also; Henry had only 28 rushing yards against the Jaguars in December but took a short pass 66 yards for a touchdown. He's a load and when you have too many guys focused on bringing down the massive running back, it leaves too few to cover the rest of the Titans offense.
As Sexton sees it: These Jaguars will be too much for a team whose offense has been junked by injuries to Walker, the offensive tackles and Mariota. The Jaguars defense should have answers for Gabbert, wide receiver Corey Davis and Henry. Bortles and the offense will be balanced with the return of Fournette, but unpredictable thanks to an aggressive mindset from offensive coordinator Nate Hackett. The Jaguars will end the losing streak to the Titans.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They continue to play defense like they have the last two weeks. Yes, there is still room for improvement, but they shut down New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in Week 1 and limited New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Week 2 for a pair of quality victories. Whether it is Mariota coming off an elbow injury or Gabbert making the start at quarterback for the Titans Sunday, the Jaguars defense should maul these guys up front and dominate the game.
The Titans will win if: They figure out a way to make the Jaguars one-dimensional and take the ball away a few times. The one-dimensional stuff could be hard if Bortles continues to play like he did last week. Takeaways in key spots for the Titans defense could be the difference, and probably the only way.
As Shadrick sees it: The Jags are 2-0 and are flying high, but the focus will be there this week as the organization puts a huge emphasis on owning the AFC South. This is a Titans team that swept the season series last year, but the Jaguars have a better roster and are an all-around better football team than the Titans and should win this one going away. Jaguars 38, Titans 9.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: The defense can switch gears. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash has prepared for a quarterback known for his pocket presence in the first two weeks of the season. This week, the defense is preparing for a mobile quarterback who can make you pay with his footwork – if Mariota is in the game.
The Titans will win if: The Jaguars are hung up on their victory over the Patriots. The team seems to be focused on their next task, but it's human nature to remain excited about beating Foxborough's Finest at home. The Titans beat the Jaguars team twice last season, and the Jaguars need to have 100 percent of their effort focused on remaining No. 1 in the AFC South.
As Sullivan sees it: I think the Jaguars will be 3-0 for the first time since 2004. The offense seems to have found its groove and Hackett has been aggressive with his play calling, putting points on the board. I think the Titans have too many holes in their roster due to key injuries and I see the Jaguars exposing the Titans' roster weaknesses.