Titans Vs. Jaguars (Dec. 6) Game Preview: Tennessee’ Playoff Push Consists Of 3 Winnable Games – Time Start, Channel
The AFC playoff race is the most competitive and thrilling it’s been in years, meaning stench-ridden games like the Thursday Night Football matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans have some aromatic appeal.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has played exceptionally well in light of the urgency needed from Tenessee (6-6), although his team hasn’t consistently delivered, dropping two of their last four games. The Jags (2017 AFC championship participants) are a team in dubious NFL purgatory, sitting at 4-8 after benching Blake Bortles amid atrocious quarterback play. The Giants, Washington, and the Colts round out the rest of the season for Tenessee, setting the Titans up for a cupcake walk to the playoffs should they keep their composure and take care of business.
The key to Thursday’s game may well be the play of Mariota, but the formidable Jags defense and established defense of the Titans will surely paint the picture come triple zeros. If all goes well on offense, (minimal turnovers and steady attack) the Titans won’t have much to worry about on the defensive end against Jags quarterback Cody Kessler, who is limited at best. The most serious threat is bruising running back Leonard Fournette, who has been an unmitigated force when healthy.
A Titans defense that can terrorize Kessler and force bad plays or turnovers will inevitably determine the game, should the Titans make do with the ball in their hands. A turnover battle in the favor of the Titans will take the edge off for Mariota, who can use the opportunity to continue playing some of the best quarterbacking of his career. Coming off of a game where Mariota rushed for 43 yards and threw for 282 in a crucial spot at the witching hour of the season, Mariota can utilize the double-edged rushing attack of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis to his advantage, should the game become a matter of possession time and ball control.
On the side of the Jags defense, the game can be entirely changed should there be a monster presence from defensive ends Calias Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, who boast seven sacks each. Allowing terror in the backfield has been the Achilles Heel for the Titans, who have given up 42 sacks this season, riddling Mariota with a litany of injuries and inhibiting his play. This could end up as a nightmare for the Titans, as Campbell has 15 quarterback hits this season, and Ngakoue holds a staggering 25. Cue Mariota looping around in the backfield on third-and-eight.
Should the Titans protect their quarterback and throttle the one on the other side, their destiny is laid out in front of them. The playoffs are all in their control, but it begins with a win on Thursday night against a team that shouldn’t be written off so easily.
Thursday’s game in Tennessee starts at 8:20 p.m. EST and will air on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon Prime.