JACKSONVILLE – Words aren't necessary. Nor is motivation.
The Jaguars will play host to the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field Saturday at 8:15 p.m. in the 2022 regular-season finale – and the main debate is whether it's ONE of the biggest regular-season games in Jaguars history or THE biggest regular-season game in franchise history.
Either way, it's big.
The Jaguars (8-8), winners of four consecutive games and six of the last eight, will win the AFC South for the second time – and the first time since 2017 – with a victory. They also will win the South with a tie. The Titans (7-9), who have lost six consecutive games, will win the division with a victory.
"I'm proud of the situation we've put ourselves in," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "It wasn't easy to get in this spot, especially the way we started the season, and here we are with an opportunity to win the division.
“We’re just putting everything we have right now into scoring just one more point than them. All that matters is winning the game.”
The game marks the first time in franchise history the Jaguars have played a winner-take-the-division game in the regular-season finale. The only previous time they qualified for the postseason with a victory in the final game of the regular season was in 1996, qualifying as a wild card with a 19-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars can make the postseason as a wild card if they lose Saturday and the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers all lose Sunday.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Titans Saturday:
- Stop Henry. This is always No. 1 against Tennessee. Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Jaguars' 36-22 Week 14 victory. He rushed for 119 yards on 14 first-half carries, becoming less of a factor as the Jaguars pulled away in the second half. Still, allowing him 7.1 yards per carry is a hard path to victory.
- Stop Henry. When you're playing the Titans, it's always worth repeating.
- Harass Dobbs. Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs is expected to make his second career start Saturday. Pressuring an inexperienced quarterback in a huge game is the highest-percentage route to victory.
- Win early downs. This ties in directly to Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Winning early downs against Henry and forcing Dobbs to throw on third-and-long situations is key. If the Jaguars can do it consistently, it's hard to see the Titans winning.
- Get a lead. This has been the Jaguars' formula the last two weeks: Get a lead, then pressure a young quarterback into a rough day. The Jaguars overcame two seven-point deficits to beat the Titans in Nashville. Better not to have to do that.
- Protect the ball. The Titans are injured and playing with a quarterback in Dobbs who has been with the team less than three weeks. If the Jaguars don't give the Titans easy opportunities, the matchup favors them.
- Force turnovers. The Jaguars rallied and won by two scores in Nashville largely because they forced the Titans into uncharacteristic mistakes. The Jaguars don't have to win turnover margin four-to-zero as they did that day, but they must at least break even.
- Get a big play in the running game. The Titans are good against the run. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. probably won't get consistent gains of four-to-six yards. But if he can get an "explosive" run or two of 15-to-20 yards, that will flip the field enough and establish the run to ease pressure from quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
- Be special. The Jaguars won the last two weeks without big moments from Lawrence, and that was OK because they didn't need those moments in a 19-3 victory over the New York Jets or a 31-3 victory over the Houston Texans. Lawrence threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans. It was one of the multiple special performances for Lawrence this season. The Jaguars likely will need at least a little special from Lawrence Saturday.
- Handle the moment. This will be the biggest game of many of these players' lives. It's essentially a playoff game. But the Jaguars essentially have been in playoff games for the last month. Balancing pressure and adrenaline will be key.
In the Zone. Midweek practice in preparation for the Week 18 playoff potential game against the Tennessee Titans. Swipe through to see some of the action.