JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2020 season, ten Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Bucky Brooks, 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, Tenn.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They sustain long drives. The Jaguars took advantage of huge turnovers and fourth-down stops in a Week 1 victory over Indianapolis, which held possession for eight minutes more than Jacksonville. Jaguars running back James Robinson moved the clock in the first half by running the ball against the Colts; the Jags must do that the entire game to beat Tennessee.
The Titans will win if: If running back Derrick Henry has a typical Henry day. When he runs it, Tennessee wins. He was dominant in the Titans' victory over the Jaguars in Nashville last season but was held to 42 yards in Jacksonville's 20-7 victory in September. Henry had 34 touches Monday night against Denver, and now must deal with the short week. He took some shots Monday, so he could be sore – but Henry is a tough guy. If he moves the chains consistently, Tennessee will win.
As Ballou sees it: The Jags have lost six consecutive games in Nashville, and it's obviously a tough place to play. Jacksonville couldn't get a pass rush against Indianapolis, and defensive coordinator Todd Wash will have to mix in more blitzes if they plan on getting to Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. This will be a one-possession game into the fourth quarter, but the Titans will hold on for a victory.
Tony Boselli, Pride of the Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They pick up offensively where they left off last week, playing efficiently with no turnovers. Defensively the key – as it is every time you play the Titans – is to slow down Henry. He has been a nightmare for the Jaguars, especially in Nashville. With the injuries at wide receiver for Tennessee, if the Jaguars stop Henry they will be in good shape.
The Titans will win if: Henry gets going early and the Titans can control the pace of the game. The Titans have dominated the Jaguars in Nashville. A quick start will have the Jaguars thinking, "Here we go again."
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars are coming off a big opening-day win, where they got big production from the rookies. This is going to give a confident group even more confidence. I don't think this team cares that the Jaguars haven't won in Nashville since 2013. I see an early big hit by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack on Henry that gets the defense hyped, setting the tone for the entire game. Minshew will pick up where he left off last week and continue to make good decisions and not put the Jags in bad situations. There won't be a ton of points, but the Jags will get over the hump in Nashville with a 17-14 victory.
Bucky Brooks, Jaguars and NFL Network Analyst
The Jaguars will win if: The defense can contain Henry and the Titans' running game. The reigning NFL rushing champ has the second-most rushing yards (714) and rushing touchdowns (nine) against the Jaguars of any runner against a single team since 2016. In his last four games against the Jaguars, Henry has averaged 124.5 rushing yards and 7.0 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. The Jaguars can't allow the gargantuan runner to impose his will or the Titans will control the game from beginning to end.
The Titans will win if: The defense makes Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II uncomfortable in the pocket. The second-year veteran flashed his impact potential when he found his groove against the Colts in an impressive performance that ranks as one of the best in franchise history. The Titans must generate pressure in the pocket, particularly up the middle to get Minshew off his spot. If Titans front seven players Jeffery Simmons, Jadeveon Clowney and Harold Landry harass Minshew early and often, the Jaguars are in for a long day.
As Brooks sees it: This early road game is a litmus test for the Jaguars. The Titans are arguably the NFL's most physical team with a hard-nosed, smash-mouth approach that tests the mental and physical toughness of their opponents. The Jaguars flexed their muscles in the opener, but they will need to take it up a notch against the Titans. If Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone can get his young squad to meet the challenge, the Jaguars could walk away with their second victory of the season.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: Like last week, they can stop the run. I said it last week, too: it's the key to the game. You know Henry will get tons of carries; you must stop him. Defensively, also make Tannehill beat you from the pocket, not as a scrambler. And the Jaguars must finish drives like they did last week.
The Titans will win if: They stop Robinson, suddenly a huge key to the game. They also must cover Jacksonville's two outstanding wide receivers: DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. Both of those guys can be game-changers. The Jaguars have some confidence now, so the Titans must be careful about letting them hang around.
As Frangie sees it: This will be a tough one. The Titans tend to play well against the Jaguars. But there clearly is something special about Minshew and these fun, young Jaguars. I think it's another fourth-quarter game.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They continue to win the turnover battle. That was the key to beating the Colts and is always the most-determining factor of any football game. Minshew must continue to protect the football and play efficiently – but still push the ball downfield. An even stronger performance by the offensive line and Robinson will allow that to happen.
The Titans will win if: Henry has similar success to past games he has had against the Jaguars. Tannehill has mobility and talented young weapons in the passing game that include tight end Jonnu Smith and wide receivers Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries. If the Titans have a strong performance by Henry, it will be incredibly difficult to stop this offense as a whole.
As Lageman sees it: This is always a tough matchup for Jacksonville in Nashville – but not an impossible one for a young Jaguars football team. The Jaguars' offense needs to find a way to prevent Titans edge defender Jadeveon Clowney from wrecking drives and getting them behind in down and distance. The Jaguars defense must improve and force a punt for the first time this season – and special teams must be special. Just like last week, young players must make plays for the Jaguars to succeed.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They control the pace of the game. I think the Jaguars must be aggressive on offense and put the Titans in a position to play catchup. If they can do that, they will take the ball out of Henry's hands to some degree.
The Titans will win if: Henry carries more than 27 times. I think the Jaguars could wear down by the end of the game if Henry starts approaching 30 carries. That's what happened to the Broncos Monday night in the big moments at the end of the game.
As Martineau sees it: This one is going to be tough. The Jaguars showed they have a lot of character and a better team than many think in Week 1. This Sunday, they must show they can match the physicality of a tough, veteran, divisional foe. I think they will keep it close, but the Titans will win 28-24.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They hold Henry under 60 yards. The Jaguars have been able to do this in five of eight games against Henry. But when Henry has pushed toward the 100-yard mark in recent meetings with the Jaguars, he has blown past it and buried struggling Jaguars teams. The Jaguars aren't struggling right now. Here's guessing they control Henry – at least compared to recent meetings in Tennessee.
The Titans will win if: They force the Jaguars into turnovers. The Jaguars played mistake-free and took advantage of opportunities to beat Indianapolis in Week 1. If they're committing turnovers against the Titans Sunday it probably means the Titans are taking control of the game. Once the Titans take control of a game, it's hard to get it back.
As Oehser sees it: This is a tough matchup for the Jaguars. The Titans are a veteran team; they know how they want to play and used that formula to make the AFC Championship Game last season. The guess here is the Jaguars will play much better in Nashville than the past two seasons. That may not be enough against a team that could be the AFC South favorite.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: Minshew can perform at a consistently high level. Tennessee will stack its big guys in the gaps to take away Robinson. Minshew must open the running lanes with his arm; unless and until he can do that, the Titans will force him to beat them.
The Titans will win if: Henry runs against the Jaguars like he has in his last two games in Nashville. Henry has run for 397 yards in his last two games at home against Jacksonville and averaged 11 yards per attempt. It doesn't take an expert to know if he can do that again, it's game over.
As Sexton sees it: This is as big a test as Minshew will get in 2020. Few teams can control the tempo and time of possession like Tennessee, which means the Titans are tough to come from behind against. If the Jaguars fall behind, it's going to be a big hill to climb. The Jaguars have some juice, but I'm not ready to say they're ready to win in Nashville for the first time since 2013.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They win the turnover battle and take advantage of the resulting scoring opportunities. They were great on this front last week, scoring 10 points off two turnovers set up by short fields. Mix in a big play or two for a score, then they're in better shape. The Titans will likely rack up time of possession on offense, so the Jaguars must ensure that the times they have the ball they finish in the end zone.
The Titans will win if: They get a balanced attack on offense. Yes, Henry is the No. 1 priority – especially considering this history against this defense. But, if the defense is overconcerned with Henry, then Tannehill can use play-action and get it over the top to the Titans' receivers – and carve the middle of the field with tight end Jonnu Smith.
As Shadrick sees it: Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Well, this game is usually filled with big plays – "haymakers" if you will. If the Jaguars' defense can limit Henry's big-play ability, then the Jaguars have a really good opportunity. I'm curious to see what new wrinkles Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden mixes into the game plan week to week. Sole possession of first place in the AFC South on the line, so put up your dukes – this one's going to get physical.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: Minshew beats the Titans' defense with his arm. Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel has watched the game tape from last week, and we all can expect the Titans' defense to try and stop Robinson immediately and take away the run game. If that occurs, it will all be on Minshew. Tennessee has very talented cornerbacks; the wide receivers and the quarterback will have to beat them to win.
The Titans will win if: They get an early lead and Henry starts rolling. The Jaguars have been able to contain the power running back in the past – as long as he doesn't have one explosive run that opens up the wound. The Jaguars defense does not need to focus on stopping Henry completely; they do need to keep the band aid on, so he does not pop a 50-yard run. That's when the game has gotten ugly in the past.
As Sullivan sees it: This game is going to be a dog fight. It always is. I expect the game to be very close and I think the Jaguars' defense will shows up for the challenge and hold Henry under 100 yards. The Jaguars win this game and we will all be talking about the belief in this team Monday morning.