JACKSONVILLE – Each week 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 Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: Running back Leonard Fournette has a big game. I’m talking about a 150-yard, two-touchdown performance. He showed what he could do in three quarters against Buffalo two weeks ago. If the Jags can run the ball and dominate time of possession, they can pull off the upset.
The Titans will win if: They rise to the occasion. This is still a big rivalry and a must-win game for the Titans if they’re thinking playoffs. Tennessee hasn’t lost to Jacksonville at home since 2013. It’s going to be cold and the Titans should have success against the Jaguars’ patchwork offensive line. On offense, they should be more balanced. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will be the difference with both his arm and feet.
As Ballou sees it: Titans, 17-13. Points will be tough to come by in this one. Unfortunately, the Jaguars will commit some untimely penalties that will lead to Titans scores. The Jaguars will fight hard but will be unable to get anything going with their passing game and Tennessee will do just enough to stop the ground game.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They play defense as they did against the Colts Sunday; if the defense plays that way, they will win the next four games. The defense has been good all season but was dominant this past Sunday. With the offense trying to find its way, it will need that kind of effort Thursday. On a short week and being on the road, a fast start will be critical.
The Titans will win if: They can jump on the Jaguars early and get a lead. I’m not sure the Jaguars’ offense can from behind from more than one possession down in its current state.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars are tired of hearing how the Titans have owned this series lately. After the big victory over the Colts, they are riding high and will take the momentum into Tennessee to get a victory that will cripple the Titans’ playoffs hopes. Fournette will come back from the suspension with a vengeance and rush for more than 100 yards. The Jaguars will win, 10-7.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They keep Mariota in the pocket. He has killed them in the past with bootlegs and general runs. They also have to hit some passes down the field.
The Titans will win if: The Titans will win if they stuff Fournette and make the Jags pass. And they must get running game going with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis.
As Frangie sees it: This is a tough task for Jaguars in front of hostile crowd. They have to play very well to have a chance.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They play lights-out defense as they did last week against Indianapolis. The Jaguars’ offense should get a little bump from the return of Fournette and having quarterback Cody Kessler with another week to get comfortable, but the Titans play good defense and points will not come easy.
The Titans will win if: If Mariota is able to make solid plays with his arm and big plays with his legs. The Jaguars have struggled with mobile quarterbacks this season, and Mariota has a history of hurting the Jaguars with his legs. Mariota put his skills on display last week against the Jets, putting together a game-winning drive and gaining momentum heading into this short-week game.
As Lageman sees it: There will not be many points scored, with both teams playing good defense. The slightest error(s) could have a big impact on the outcome. Turnovers, special teams and penalties will play a big role. There will be tense and trying moments in an AFC South game that will carry plenty of emotion. Tennessee is playing for its playoff life at home in a short week, so this will be a tough get for a Jaguars team on the road playing out the string.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They can match the Titans’ physical intensity. That hasn’t been easy in past years and it’s made more difficult because of Thursday Night Football. Road teams are 2-9 on Thursday Night Football so far this year. Like last week, this will be up to the defense.
The Titans will win if: They slow Fournette, who should be well-rested after his suspension.
As Martineau sees it: First one to 20 points wins. I don’t like either offense. The Jaguars seem to have a mental hurdle when it comes to the Titans, although I think that gets overplayed. Bottom line: The Titans are home and just the better team right now. Tennessee will win, 20-16.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: The defense maintains its high level, and Fournette rushes for more than 100 yards. The defense doesn’t need to repeat its shutout performance from Sunday against the Colts, but it must hold the Titans to 10-to-14 points. If Fournette plays as he did the two weeks before the suspension, the offense could get to 20 Thursday.
The Titans will win if: Mariota makes creative plays, and the defense stifles the Jaguars’ offense. This has been the Titans’ formula in three consecutive victories in this series. Until the Jaguars figure a way to change that, the Titans will retain their edge.
As Oehser sees it: The circumstances are too tough for the Jaguars: a road game, Thursday Night Football, a motivated opponent that matches up well against them. A Jaguars victory would be a major upset.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: If Fournette produces 130 yards two touchdowns; in other words, if he can play as he was playing in Buffalo before being ejected, the Jaguars can have a balanced attack. Kessler is playing behind a pieced-together line that didn’t play as badly as it seemed against the Colts. If he has the run to keep the Titans’ defense honest, maybe we’ll see the kind of passing attack that prompted Head Coach Doug Marrone to make the change at quarterback two weeks ago.
The Titans will win if: Mariota does what he always seems to do. His numbers are rarely impressive against the Jaguars, but it seems whenever the Jaguars have him backed up in third and long, he escapes to get the first down and kill the Jaguars’ hopes. The Jaguars must know where he is. He isn’t an All-Pro, but he has beaten the Jaguars five times in seven starts, so he is an All-Pro in this matchup.
As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars’ defense is more than up to the job. The secondary played lights out against the Colts. You know about cornerback Jalen Ramsey but you might not have seen corner A.J. Bouye playing so well he was essentially running the routes for the receivers. Free safety Tashaun Gipson came up big Sunday, and rookie strong safety Ronnie Harrison looks like he is going to be a good one. The defense dominated up front and I think they can again Thursday. But can the Jaguars can find the end zone? I like their chances against a Titans team that isn’t playing very well. It’s tough to call the victory for a team that scored just two field goals Sunday, particularly playing in Nashville in prime time. They can do it but it’s on Fournette.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They can turn the game into a physical slugfest. With all the changes lately, scoring 30 points on offense would be an outlier, so the Jaguars must run the ball, play field position, score when they have the opportunity and lean on the defense. This was the kind of game the Titans won with a 9-6 final in Week 3. The Jaguars must reverse it this week.
The Titans will win if: They win the turnover battle. Extra possessions for the Titans on short fields is not a recipe for success for the Jaguars. The Jaguars must protect the ball; there is no other option here.
As Shadrick sees it: The Jaguars have not won in Nashville since Week 10 of 2013, a victory that snapped an eight-game losing skid to open the season and gave then-Head Coach Gus Bradley his first win. That started a stretch in which the Jaguars won four of five games and showed a little life. Hopefully, this is similar after last week’s gritty victory over the Colts. Can the Jaguars carry whatever momentum they have into Nashville on a short week and take care of the inconsistent Titans? Tough ask, but why not?
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: The defense can contain Mariota, who has been a nightmare for the Jaguars in the past. He’s a mobile quarterback who somehow manages to get eight yards when he only needs seven for the first down. Ramsey, Linebacker Telvin Smith and defensive end Calais Campbell all mentioned this week how important it is to cut Mariota’s rushing attack short.
The Titans will win if: Tackle Jurrell Casey and the defense can eliminate the Jaguars’ rushing attack. The Jaguars’ offense couldn’t get much going last week without Fournette. He’s back this week, but the Titans will do all they can to stop Fournette. If they take away the run and force Kessler to throw down field to limited offensive weapons, the Jaguars will have trouble scoring.
As Sullivan sees it: This has been a tough matchup for the Jaguars the past two seasons. If the defense can play near how they did when they shut out the Colts, the Jaguars will win. No one on the Titans’ offense should scare the Jaguars, who should perform at a high level again if their communication is as good as last Sunday. I see the Jaguars coming home with a victory under the bright lights of Thursday Night Football.