Two of the league’s best defenses get ready to meet, as the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) 5th-ranked defense heads to Nissan Stadium to take on the Tennessee Titans (6-6) and their 6th-ranked defense on Thursday Night Football in Week 14 (December 6th at 8:20pm EST).
Sportsbooks have taken notice of these dominant defenses, as they’ve set the game total at just 37, with the Titans opening as 4.5-point favorites.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have not enjoyed the season they envisioned after barely falling to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game last season.
Their win over the Colts in Week 13 snapped a seven game slide. And at this point, they may have been better off losing that game to stay in the hunt for the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
It’s sad to see such a talented team go to waste because someone in the building thought it was a good idea to let Blake Bortles remain the starting quarterback, while many other options were available.
I can’t wait for the day Blake Bortles gets released and Jalen Ramsey says what he thinks of him
— Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) November 25, 2018
Once again, a championship defense is going to waste.
The strength of the Jaguars’ defense has (again) been their secondary. Jacksonville is allowing a measly 207.2 yards through the air per game, ranking 3rd in the league, and have not allowed 300 net passing yards in a single game this season.
A joy to watch Jalen Ramsey pic.twitter.com/WaJVvCp56H
— Jeff Lageman (@logs56) December 3, 2018
Jacksonville has not been as dominant as they were last season against the pass, but they’ve shown flashes, including last week when they shutout a red-hot Colts offense.
— NFL (@NFL) December 3, 2018
One big difference has been their inability to rush the passer this season. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are tied for the team lead with seven sacks each, but no other player currently on the roster has more than one – Dante Fowler Jr recorded two as a Jaguar.
Jacksonville is averaging just two sacks per game in 2018, which is tied for 27th in the NFL.
Their secondary has been good enough, though, that they still only allow 20.3 points per game (5th).
Jalen Ramsey with the game-winning tackle! Jaguars win! Jaguars win! pic.twitter.com/iRNF2QuP8t
— Big Sad Country (@BigCatCountry) December 2, 2018
Fortunately, Doug Marrone finally did what was right and sent Bortles to the bench. The pivot was responsible for 14 of the team’s 23 turnovers (5th-most in the league), and could not deliver simple passes.
Unfortunately, Cody Kessler isn’t the answer, either. He’s better than Bortles. But this team needs a QB. And management better hope the defense is still intact when they finally find one.
Jaguars vs Titans Statistical Comparison
|16.9 (30th)||PPG||18.4 (28th)|
|335.2 (24th)||YPG||310.2 (28th)|
|111.3 (18th)||Rushing YPG||112.7 (16th)|
|223.9 (24th)||Passing YPG||197.5 (29th)|
|20.3 (5th)||PPG Allowed||20.4 (6th)|
|315.6 (3rd)||YPG Allowed||340.9 (9th)|
|108.4 (16th)||Rushing YPG Allowed||119.8 (19th)|
|207.2 (3rd)||Passing YPG Allowed||221.2 (5th)|
|-10 (30th)||Turnover Differential||-4 (21st)|
Tennessee’s 2018 outlook looks much brighter than Jacksonville’s, but they’ve been plagued by inconsistencies all over the field. A win on Thursday night will ensure they remain in a crowded AFC playoff race.
Just like the Jaguars, the Titans defense also thrives on their ability to defend the pass. They only give up 221.2 yards per game through the air, good for 5th in the NFL.
— John Glennon (@glennonsports) December 3, 2018
A testament to how great their DBs have been this year is the minimal amount of pressure Tennessee is applying on QBs. They rank 21st in the league in quarterback take downs, only averaging 2.5 per game.
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) December 3, 2018
The New York Jets are now firsthand witnesses to how hard it is to put the ball in the air against the Titans. The Jets could only manage 124 passing yards in their matchup last week, where Tennessee got to the QB three times.
Tennessee has allowed just one team to post more than 300 net passing yards in a game this season, and have only given up a combined 305 yards through the air in their last two games.
— NFL (@NFL) December 3, 2018
One of the Titans’ biggest inconsistencies this season has been quarterback Marcus Mariota. A lot of that can be blamed on the pivot being hampered by injuries the majority of the season, but that excuse won’t get them into the playoffs.
Mariota has shown flashes of greatness, like two weeks ago against the Texans when he completed 22-of-23 passes for 303 yards and two TDs, but also has four games with passer ratings less than 81.
Against a very good Jaguars pass defense, and seemingly no powerful ground game to lean on, Tennessee will need the Mariota from Week 12 on Thursday.
The last meeting between these two came on September 23rd, 2018, when Tennessee shocked the Jaguars 9-6. The Jaguars were 10-point favorites in that game.