JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2019 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 run the ball. As good as rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II was in Houston, especially in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars must be a balanced team. Running back Leonard Fournette ran well against Kansas City in Week 1, but the rushing offense took a step back last Sunday.
The Titans will win if: They get an early lead. Even though the Jaguars came back last week, the Jalen Ramsey distraction could really hurt the team. If Tennessee can run the ball and get some early scores, you have to believe the Jaguars will be emotionally done.
As Ballou sees it: Jacksonville will get a boost with some key players returning and the defense will get to Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Minshew will continue to get the ball to his receivers and the Jaguars will win by a field goal.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They stop Titans running back Derrick Henry and the Titans' rushing attack, making Mariota beat them. Last December on Thursday Night Football, Henry dominated and embarrassed the Jaguars' defense from start to finish. There was never any pressure on Mariota to win the game with his right arm. If the Jags get Mariota behind the chains, they will have opportunities to create turnovers and get off the field.
The Titans will win if: They get Henry going early and take an early lead. This will force the Jaguars' offense with Minshew to play catch up the entire night. Controlling the line of scrimmage, as they have done in the past few matchups with the Jaguars, will be key for the Titans Thursday night.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars won't be distracted by the Ramsey drama and will come out with a ton of positive emotion Thursday night. They are tired of getting pushed around by the Titans and will come out swinging (hopefully not literally) from the opening kickoff. They will stop Henry and force Mariota to beat them. Look for Minshew to have his best outing yet. The Jaguars will win, 24-10.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They can minimize the distractions of a crazy week. They must be focused. They also have to win first down on defense, which means controlling the physical running of Henry. Stopping Henry is the key; you must make the Titans pass when they don't want to. Minshew must continue his strong play.
The Titans will win: If they get Henry going; he has run well against his hometown team in the past. Tennessee is best when it wins in the trenches; there is nothing fancy about how the Titans play. They also need to get to Minshew because the rookie has proven he is very accurate when he has time.
As Frangie sees it: In a weird way, I think the craziness and desperation will work in the Jags' favor here and galvanize this team. I think Minshew will continue to play well. I love home crowds at night. I like the Jaguars' chances in this one, albeit against many odds. The Jaguars will win a close one.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They can get their running game to a more effective level than the last of couple weeks. The Jags are making some changes to the offensive line this week with the return if left tackle Cam Robinson to the lineup; hopefully this will give a bump to the ground game. Minshew Mania needs a ground game to help score some points.
The Titans will win if: Henry is allowed to run effectively against a Jaguars defense that has had plenty of distraction this week with the Ramsey saga. The Titans are struggling to find their passing attack and have only converted three of 20 third downs; having Henry be an effective back makes a passing game way easier. Mariota is also a key component of the Titans rushing attack with their read option.
As Lageman sees it: This is a tough game to figure with all the noise coming from the Jaguars' side of things. Usually a distraction of the Ramsey magnitude is tough to overcome, but it sometimes can cause a team to circle the wagons – so to speak. Thursday night games are also extremely tough on the road team. So, I think the Titans will go to 0-6 in Thursday night road games and the Jaguars find a way to win.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They play desperate. They're in a must-win game early in the season and most people have their hand on the panic button. The Jaguars have to show a great deal of mental toughness Thursday night. The Ramsey distraction is one thing, but the Titans are in the Jaguars' head and have their number.
The Titans will win if: They win the trenches. Houston pushed the Jaguars' defensive front around on Sunday. The Titans are usually good at that and have Henry in the backfield. Tennessee's defense will try to get after the Jaguars' unproven offensive line. If they do that, it will be an unproductive day for Fournette and recipe for a Titans victory.
As Martineau sees it: I'm crazy – really crazy. I think the Jaguars are going to win. It's time to stop being afraid of Tennessee; they are not that good. I believe the greatest home-field advantage in the NFL might be Thursday night football. It is hard on a short week to go on the road, play well and win. The Jags will win 24-16.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: Minshew is what he appeared to be in the fourth quarter against the Texans. The rookie has been somewhat lost in the furor over Ramsey this week, but the poise and accuracy he showed in his first NFL start was impressive. He appeared to be developing a rapport with wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Chris Conley. If that continues, the Jaguars may just have something offensively.
The Titans will win if: They run downhill. The Titans dominated this series the past two seasons because they believed they could wear down the Jaguars' front and overpower them. As often as not, they were right. The run defense struggled against Houston early last week. That can't be a trend.
As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars will play their best game of the season, create at least two turnovers and win.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if they can focus on the game and not Ramsey. I left NRG Stadium last week convinced this team could play great defense and evolve offensively to stay competitive without quarterback Nick Foles. Ramsey reportedly wanting a trade created a tsunami of distractions for the team and the city before the only prime-time game on the 2019 Jaguars schedule. If they can rally around each other and ignore Ramsey and his motives, they will beat the Titans.
The Titans will win: If Ramsey's actions last Sunday and his words this week are a distraction to a team that was already reeling from the loss of its quarterback.
As Sexton sees it: I saw this as a win for the Jaguars last Sunday evening. I thought they would build on their strong performance in Houston, correct the mistakes from penalties, get and a turnover and gain some footing on their season. They could rally, but the Jalen Ramsey Show is sucking up all the oxygen in the room. No matter what the players say, they have to feel abandoned by their team's best player. I think the Titans take advantage of the distraction and gain their fifth consecutive win over the Jaguars.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: The defense can overcome the distractions of this week and rally together. This starts by stopping the run with the Titans, of course – a takeaway would be nice as well – but the play of the secondary will be must-see TV. There likely will be an ISO camera on Ramsey all night, no matter where he is on the field. If it goes well, then great. If it doesn't go well, then look out. This is how it is going to be from now on.
The Titans will win if: They can win at the line of scrimmage against the Jaguars' offensive line. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said this week that he expects Robinson and Cedric Ogbuehi to both play at left tackle and A.J. Cann and Will Richardson Jr. to both play at right guard. That's a lot of coming and going up front. This is a Titans defensive line with talent, and if they take over the game, Minshew and Fournette will not get a chance to get this offense started.
As Shadrick sees it: The pregame and first 15 minutes of this game will tell a lot about how this is going to go. Has the Ramsey drama disrupted preparations on a short week with an 0-2 record and a divisional rival coming in? Well, there are 52 other players in this locker room that have not publicly asked for a trade. If the Jaguars – including Ramsey – play well early, they can stay in it. If they get behind by a couple of scores early, this could quickly deteriorate. Let's hope it's positive. It's only Week 3.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They can stop Henry. Ramsey trade talk has dominated the conversation this week, but the Jaguars cannot forget about the Titans' running back. We all remember the 99-yard touchdown run last season. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue told us this week Henry must be stopped for the Jaguars to have a chance to win.
The Titans will win if: Their defensive line pressures Minshew early. Despite an impressive performance from Minshew yet again in Week 2, it took until the fourth quarter to get him going and he held onto the ball for too long on a number of plays. Minshew and the Jaguars' offensive line will need to hold their own and attack early instead of waiting for the game to be on the line this week.
As Sullivan sees it: This is the week we find out if the Jaguars are mentality tough. It's not going to be easy to get past the distraction Ramsey has caused, not to mention the Titans have won the last six of seven in this matchup. The Jaguars will win because they know they cannot go 0-3, and all the distractions this week will fuel them to get the job done.