Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans

In this Thursday Night Football AFC South showdown, the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by their newly appointed starting quarterback, Cody Kessler, travel north to take on Marcus Mariota and his Tennessee Titans on December 6 at 8:20 pm, Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN, broadcasted by the NFL Network.

 

The 4-8 Jacksonville Jaguars:

Now leading the 4-8 Jacksonville Jaguars is backup quarterback Cody Kessler, who replaced struggling starter Blake Bortles after Jacksonville’s seventh straight loss in Week 12.

With Kessler taking snaps, the Jags took down one of their AFC South rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, in Week 13 at home in what was anything but a blowout win, the unimpressive score: 6-0.

The Jaguars are 1-4 at home and 1-3 against teams in their division, and in Week 14 they’ll have a chance to take on yet another better-ranked divisional adversary, the Tennessee Titans.

The 6-6 Tennessee Titans:

Despite quarterback Marcus Mariota throwing a first quarter pick-six and being down 16-6 at the half to the weaker New York Jets in Week 13, the 6-6 Tennessee Titans eventually got the job done by marching down the field and scoring a touchdown with 37-seconds remaining, final score 26-22.

 The Titans have won three of their last five games, and could use an easy AFC South win against the weaker Jaguars to improve their chance of winning a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Tennessee is 4-1 at home and 2-2 against teams in their own division and are favored by 4.5 points in this one.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 48 times (including 1 postseason game), with Tennessee winning 28 games and Jacksonville winning 20 games. The Titans have won the last four-out-of-five matchups, the latest one being in Week 3 when the Titans won 9-6.

If the Jaguars win this matchup, their record will improve to 5-8 but they’ll still remain in last place by a game in the AFC South.

But if the Titans come out on top, they’ll be 7-6 and put themselves in a better position to compete for an AFC wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Week 14 Jaguars-Titans matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Jaguars and the Titans and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Jaguars offense now led by a backup

Replacement quarterback Kessler had a respectable day in his win against the Colts, throwing 18-for-24 for 150 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions.

 Without wide receiver D.J. Clark (quad, see below), Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief have become the main targets in a passing attack currently ranked 24th after averaging 223.9 yards through the air per game.

Tight end James O'Shaughnessy has caught 17 balls and has averaged 10.0 yards per reception for 170 total yards, but he’s only been targeted 29 times this season.

Jaguars rushing attack rejoined by Fournette

A big reason for the Jaguars’ lack of production against the Colts was the absence of second-year running back Leonard Fournette, who was suspended for a game after taking a swing at Bills defender Shaq Lawson in Week 12.

Fournette is no stranger to missing games – he’s only played in five of them this season, running 90 times for 314 yards and four touchdowns while catching 14 balls for 134 yards and a touchdown.

To help their struggling run game, general manager David Caldwell brought in running back Carlos Hyde through a trade with the Cleveland Browns, and he’s carried the ball 40 times for 129 yards, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

Jacksonville offensive Injuries

Tackle Josh Walker (foot) didn’t play in Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts and is listed day-to-day.

Since Week 3, five Jaguar offensive lineman have been placed on injured reserve: guards Andrew Norwell (ankle) and Brandon Linder (knee) and tackles Will Richardson (knee), Josh Wells (groin) and Cam Robinson (ACL).

Wide receiver D.J. Chark (quadriceps) was inactive in Week 13, his status for Week 14 currently unlisted.

The 2018 Titans offense struggling

Right now Tennessee’s offense is at the bottom of the barrel, ranked 28th in a league of 32 teams after only scoring 18.4 points and gaining 310.2 total yards per game.

Starting quarterback Marcus Mariota is 27th in the league in passing yards with 2,168 while throwing for 11 touchdowns and 7 picks, but it can’t be easy for him to be effective in the backfield while being sacked 38 times, tied for fourth most in the league.

Mariota’s targets are receivers Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe and tight end Jonnu Smith, who average a combined 197.5 receiving yards per game, with only three other teams being worse.

Tennessee’s run game two-headed

Running backs Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis share snaps in the Titan’s backfield, their combined rushing attack ranked 17th in the league.

Henry has run 139 times for 532 yards and 5 touchdowns, while Lewis has touched the ball 135 times for 464 yards and a touchdown while also catching 45 balls for 309 yards and a touchdown.

Tennessee offensive Injuries

Tennessee currently has no injuries listed, but guard Aaron Stinnie, tackle Tyler Marz and running back Dalyn Dawkins were all inactive for Week 13 due to coach’s decision.

Running back David Fluellen (knee) was also inactive for Week 13, his current status for Week 14 unlisted.

Jaguars Defense ranks 3rd in the league

The Jags allow opponents to score just 20.2 points and to gain a total of 315.6 yards per game with a passing offense ranked 3rd overall but with a middle of the road run defense ranked 16th.

As highly ranked as the Jacksonville defense is in the league, they are only tied for 20th in total interceptions (9) and 27th in sacks (24).

Jaguars Defensive Players to watch:

Second-team All-Pro outside linebacker Telvin Smith is having a huge year, his 101 combined tackles currently ranked fifth overall, plus he’s had 2 passes defended, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Over half of Jacksonville’s 24 total sacks come from two defensive ends – All-Pro Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, who each have 7 sacks apiece.

Always fun to watch All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who’s tied for 9th most interceptions (3) along with 8 passes defended and 42 combined tackles.

Jacksonville defensive injuries a factor

Defensive tackle Abry Jones (shin) is listed as questionable for Week 14.

Defensive tackle Eli Ankou (coach’s decision), linebackers Blair Brown (coach’s decision), and  Blair Brown (coach’s decision) and cornerbacks Quenton Meeks (knee-MCL) and Tre Herndon (ankle) were all inactive for Week 13, their status for Week 14 currently unlisted.

Titans Defense is 9th overall

Teams playing Tennessee average 20.4 points and 340.9 total yards per game, the Titans being ranked 5th against the pass but just T-19th against the run.

Though the Titan defense is top-ten quality, they’re only tied for 24th in interceptions (7) and tied for 19th in sacks (29).

Titans Defensive Players to watch:

Inside linebacker Wesley Weekyard is making plays all over the place this season with 78 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, a pass defended and a forced fumble.

Keep your eye on inside linebacker Jayon Brown, who has 6.0 sacks, and defensive end Jurrell Casey, who has 5.5 sacks.

In the Titans secondary, watch Cornerback Malcolm Butler and free safety Kevin Byard, who have 2 interceptions apiece.

Tennessee defensive injuries a factor

Defensive end Matt Dickerson (coach’s decision), defensive back Dane Cruikshank (knee) and outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (coach’s decision) were all inactive for Week 13, their status for Week 14 currently unlisted.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Jacksonville’s rookie punter, Logan Cooke, has punted 62 times for a net average of 40.2 yards per punt, ranked 16th in the NFL.

Tennessee’s veteran punter, Brett Kern, was Second-team All Pro last season and has punted 57 times for a net average of 40.5 yards per punt, ranked 13th in the NFL.

Placekickers:

Jacksonville’s placekicker, Josh Lambo, is in his second NFL year and has gone 19-for-21, his longest was a 57-yarder.

Lambo has missed one extra point attempt (18/19).

Tennessee’s placekicker, Ryan Succop, was acquired in 2009 from the Chiefs and so far he is 21-for-24, his longest was a 54-yarder.

Succop has missed one extra point attempt (20/21).

Punt Returners:

Jacksonville’s punt returner, wide receiver Dede Westbrook, is ranked 5th in the league.

Westbrook has returned 8 punts for 120 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 15.0 yards per return, his longest for 25 yards.

Tennessee’s punt returner, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, is ranked 24th in the league in return average.

Jackson has returned 11 punts for 106 yards and a touchdown, averaging 9.6 yards per return, his longest was for 26 yards.

Jaguars–Titans prediction and odds

The oddsmakers have the Titans favored over the Jaguars by 4.5 with an over/under of 38.

CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:

Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Titans 17, Jaguars 14

John Breech takes the under and predicts it Titans 16, Jaguars 13

 

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