The Tennessee Titans (1-1) will head to TIAA Bank Field to meet the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0) in Week 3 (September 23, 2018 at 1:00pm EST). The undefeated Jaguars opened as 6.5-point home favorites.
Tennessee’s offense goes as far as their running game will take them. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been too far, as they only score 20.0 points per game. Without their success on the ground, though, it would be even less. Led by Dion Lewis (117 yards, 1 TD) and Derrick Henry (82 yards, 0 TDs), the Titans churn out 108.0 yards per game on the ground. But they’re not doing so efficiently, averaging just 3.4 YPC.
The Titans have needed to rely on Lewis and the others from the Tennessee backfield this season, as both Marcus Mariota and his Week 2 stand-in, Blaine Gabbert, have been subpar. With just 234 yards through the air (50th) and 1 TD and 1 INT, Gabbert has an underwhelming 70.9 passer rating in 1.5 games.
The journeyman QB has a stable floor as a backup but also a low ceiling. With Mariota potentially sidelined again, getting Lewis and the run-game going early will be crucial in Week 3.
Saying Tennessee’s defense is built to defend the pass is a bit hyperbolic. They are better against the pass than run, but they’re not really good at stopping either method of attack. The Titans are allowing 255.5 passing yards per game (20th), and 134.0 rushing (26th). The one thing they have going for them is their ability to bend (a lot) without breaking, as teams only score 22.0 points per game against them (16th).
The offense Tennessee will meet this week has been solid, on the whole, if not spectacular. Jacksonville is scoring 25.5 PPG (12th), yet looked much more dynamic last week (31-20 win vs New England) than in the opener (20-15 win at the Giants). Usually thought of as a run-heavy team, the Jaguars have had a balanced offense so far, possessing the league’s ninth-ranked ground game and 12th-ranked passing attack.
Much maligned QB Blake Bortles has continued his strong 2017 season by throwing for 553 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs (92.5 passer rating). Keelan Cole has been his favorite target, pulling in 10 passes for 170 yards and one TD. Meanwhile, with Leonard Fournette banged up, it’s been T.J. Yeldon leading the way out of the backfield, rushing for 109 yards (17th-most in the NFL).
Flipping to the other side of the ball, Jacksonville’s defense has been among the league’s best. They’re giving up just 17.5 points per game, the fifth-fewest in the NFL. The Jaguars’ ninth-ranked pass defense deserves a lot of the credit for their success as a unit, as they surrender just 215.0 yards per game through the air.
Tennessee will need Dion Lewis and the ground game to alleviate some pressure off Mariota/Gabbert this week.
The last time these two teams played was December 31st, 2017, when Tennessee defeated the Jaguars 15-10. The Titans were 2.5-point favorites in that game.