JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2021 season, 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.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They convert on third down and in the red zone. The Titans have controlled the clock to the tune of 34 minutes per game this season. If the Jaguars stay on the field, that means Titans running back Derrick Henry is off it – which is a very good thing considering he ran for 215 yards in Jacksonville last season. They must convert on third down and score touchdowns to finish long drives.
The Titans will win if: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill can stand in the pocket. Wide receiver A.J. Brown is sensational – and even though he's 32, wide receiver Julio Jones remains a dominant physical presence. Both are slowed by hamstring injuries. But if they play and Tannehill has time, the Titans quarterback can attack Jaguars rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell – who has been a weak spot so far this season. The Jaguars aren't getting enough pressure on the quarterback.
As Sexton sees it: The off-field news this week in Jacksonville is bad news for a young team. Mix in Henry, who has crushed the Jaguars in recent seasons, and this has the makings of a long afternoon. But the Titans are up and down so far this season, and the Jags are coming off their best performance of the season in Cincinnati. If the Jaguars somehow can get past the distractions, this is a game they can steal from a team that is the top dog in the AFC South but not necessarily playing like it yet.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They stop Henry AND limit big plays to the Titans' receivers. It's easy to say stopping Henry is key for the Jaguars – and there's no question the Jaguars must at least slow him to have a chance. But they also must prevent the deep pass, something that has turned too many games against the Jaguars this season. The health of Jones and Brown is a major storyline as Sunday approaches.
The Titans will win if: They hold Jaguars running back James Robinson under 80 yards. The Jaguars' offense must at least establish the threat of the run to have a chance; the offense this season pretty much has gone as the second-year running back has gone. With wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (ankle) out for the Jaguars, their passing game may not yet have a go-to option.
As Oehser sees it: A lot is stacked against the Jaguars Sunday – more than just the Titans' recent dominance in the series. The Titans are the defending AFC South champions and the preseason division favorite. They haven't played to their potential yet. They will be highly motivated after an upset loss to the New York Jets last week.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They are plus-two in turnover margin. Think about that. The Jaguars have only forced one all season. When you're not as good on paper, you must win the turnover margin. The Jaguars must start doing that or the wins will be hard to find.
The Titans will win if: Henry gets over 125 yards. It has been a simple formula for the Titans; everything works around Henry. He gets over 30 touches a game. It will be interesting to see if the Titans attack the Jaguars' weak pass defense – and if that actually helps or hurts the Jaguars. But every Titans game starts with Henry.
As Martineau sees it: I don't like this one, folks. I have a bad feeling after the week in Jacksonville. If the Jaguars find a way to pull this out, it will say a lot for the players in that locker room – and by the way, it would put them one game out in the AFC South. I think this is all Titans and it's a not-so-happy Sunday in Jacksonville: 33-16, Titans.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They win the turnover battle. It wasn't enough Thursday in Cincinnati to not give the ball away offensively, they need to add as many possessions as possible by taking it away. One takeaway in four games is not going to win.
The Titans will win if: The league's leading rusher in Henry gets rolling. We all know what that means firsthand, and that first hand is usually at the end of a stiff arm. So is the second and third and sometimes fourth. Keep him contained and get your shots in on him early before he gets those legs churning.
As Shadrick sees it: This game is huge for the Jaguars: a division rival coming in, a winless Jags team searching for a way to finish games and a losing streak that is nearing record length. Here's the reality: if the Jags can clip the Titans Sunday, they Jaguars would be only a game out of first place with a tiebreaker over Tennessee. Maybe it's a spark for a team looking for one, and that could loom large if the Jaguars put it together and finish games as the weeks roll by. If they don't, then the uphill battle becomes that much steeper. Can Head Coach Urban Meyer get his team to circle the wagons, ignore the noise of the past week and continue to improve and get a winning result? It's a big week.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They ignore the outside noise and continue to build on performances that have improved week to week. Obviously, they must at least slow Henry and make Tannehill be a major factor in the game. And hopefully find an increased pass rush. Offensively, they must run Robinson and find some splash plays — maybe from wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew. The need something down the field. And take care of the ball like they did in Cincinnati.
The Titans will win if: They do what they do — pound it with Henry and watch him get stronger as the game goes on. And they must play better defense — this might be the worse defense the Jags have played so far so Tennessee is looking for improved play on that side of the ball.
As Frangie sees it: Avoiding distractions is so important here. Everyone knows there has been much conversation about non-football matters. But if the Jags stay focused, continue to stay in games early, they have a chance.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They can slow down Henry (easier said than done) and force the Titans to win through the air with their beat-up receiving corps. Henry is the engine that makes the Titans go; when he is neutralized, the Titans become one-dimensional and expose an offensive line that has struggled in pass protection. This could be the week the Jaguars' pass rush gets home.
The Titans will win if: They protect Tannehill and don't get behind the chains with negative plays. When they are on schedule, it allows them to feed Henry the ball all 60 minutes. Defensively, they must limit the effectiveness of Robinson and force the Jaguars into a pass-heavy game.
As Boselli sees it: There have been plenty of distractions this week in the Jaguars' locker room – but instead of dividing the team, I think it brings it closer. The Jaguars' defense will slow down Henry and dominate a bad Titans offensive line, creating three turnovers. Look for the Jaguars to get their first win of the season against the hated Titans, 24-17.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They circle the wagons and focus on their division rival. There is no mystery on how to stop the Titans' offense as it runs through Henry; Tennessee likes to play bully ball. The Jaguars' run defense needs to be at its best, limit Henry's impact and put added pressure on Tannehill. The Titans' offensive line is not what it used to be and is having a hard time with pass protection.
The Titans will win if: Henry stiff-arms his way to a fourth consecutive 100-yard-rushing game. He is on pace for his best season, which is amazing considering the Titans are struggling up front a bit and have an ailing wide receiver group. Brown could return Sunday after missing the loss to the Jets and could provide the sort of explosive plays that have been hurting the Jaguars' defense.
As Lageman sees it: This is where the Jaguars' 19-game losing streak will end – exactly where it started against a division rival in Tennessee. The first loss of the Jaguars' losing streak was Week 2 2020 against the Titans in Nashville. The Jaguars' offense showed significant improvement last week in protecting the football. The Jaguars' defensive strength is stopping the run. The Jaguars just need to find a way to play consistently and finish games in the second half. Doing so and winning the turnover differential will give the Jaguars a victory.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They stop Henry. The man is a beast and gets better as the game continues. Tennessee is beat up on the offensive line and at wide receiver, so the Titans should be one-dimensional. If the Jaguars can match their average of holding opponents to 106 yards rushing, they will pull the upset.
The Titans will win if: They show up in a bad mood after losing last week to the Jets. Henry will be the biggest factor and Tennessee is a time-of-possession machine. Henry gets better as the game goes on and they will wear try to wear down the Jaguars in the second half.
As Ballou sees it: The first quarter will be huge for the Jaguars because we'll be able to tell where this team is after a week full of distractions. I believe the effort will be there and Jacksonville will make some big plays. Unfortunately, Tennessee is the more talented team, and the Titans will win for a fourth consecutive time over the Jaguars.
WEEK 5 · Sun 10/10 · 1:00 PM EDT