Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, EverBank Field. TV: CBS, Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein.
44th regular-season meeting. The Titans lead the series, 24-19, and have won the last two matchups, including a 36-22 verdict on Oct. 27 in Nashville.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Titans can't afford to overlook the Jaguars. The Jaguars are 2-12 and just fired coach Gus Bradley after losing a 13-0 lead last Sunday at Houston. Doug Marrone comes in as Jacksonville's interim coach, and the Titans know full well how dangerous that situation can be. That's because that was them a year ago. Having fired Ken Whisenhunt seven games into the 2015 season, Mike Mularkey managed to catch lightning in a bottle in his first game with an upset win at New Orleans.
With an interim coach and long eliminated from playoff consideration, the Jaguars are likely to play as if they have nothing to lose, and dashing the Titans' postseason hopes could be a season-maker for Jacksonville.
The Titans ran at will in the first matchup. But the Jacksonville defense has been solid since then and is now ranked in the top 10. The Titans won't veer off course, sticking with the run and using it to set up shots for Marcus Mariota downfield. Mariota has had big games against the Jaguars in his young career and has hurt them with his running as well as his throwing.
Defensively, the Titans will try to make the Jags one-dimensional and put the game on the shoulders of struggling Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles, who played poorly in the first meeting and has not had a strong season.
For the Jaguars, it's run the ball better and stop the run better. In the first meeting, Jacksonville allowed a seasonhigh 214 yards and was held to a season-low 48 yards, the third time in their first seven games that opponents had held the Jaguars to 48.
With Bortles continuing to struggle, the ground game has to come through with a solid effort for the Jaguars to have any chance of winning. Bortles has thrown for more than 202 yards just once in his last five games, all of which have ended in losses. Jacksonville will have to find a way to stop the 1-2 combination of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, who ran for 183 yards in the first meeting.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Titans QB Marcus Mariota vs. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey has been steadily improving and is coming off a big game last week against the Texans. Mariota would like to exploit the Jaguars if he can, much like he did in the first meeting .
--Jaguars LT Jermey Parnell vs. Titans DT Jurrell Casey. Any hope of the Jaguars having success in the running game will likely hinge on Parnell being able to get the advantage over Casey. It won't be an easy task. Casey isn't having the best year of his career, but it's been good enough to get him selected to the Pro Bowl for a second straight year, this time as a starter for the AFC team. He missed the game against Denver two weeks ago (foot injury) but played last week and should be ready to go Sunday. His 28 sacks his first five years in the league are fifth among defensive tackles, but he has just three this year. Parnell has been solid for the Jaguars, with 14 consecutive starts. Parnell was part of the 2014 Dallas line that helped DeMarco Murray lead the NFL with a franchise-record 1,845 rushing yards.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--Out: CB Jason McCourty (chest)
--Questionable: LB Sean Spence (ankle)
Titans RT Jack Conklin. Not only was Conklin an alternate for the Pro Bowl, the rookie tackle has been a key cog all season on the offensive line. That has been most evident the past two games, during which Conklin has held down vaunted pass rushers from the Broncos and Chiefs. He managed to shut out KC's Justin Houston last week.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota has five passing TDs, one INT, 123 rushing yards and a rushing TD in the past two meetings. He completed 18 of 22 passes (81.8 percent) for 270 yards with two TDs in the last meeting.
Titans RB DeMarco Murray ranks second in the NFL with 1,224 rushing yards. Since 2014, he leads the league with 3,771 yards and is second with 28 rushing TDs.
Titans rookie RB Derrick Henry has three rushing TDs in the past three games, including two last week.
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has 659 passing yards, eight TDs and no interceptions in the past two meetings. Since 2015, he has 56 pass TDs, eighth-most in the NFL.
Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon has 274 scrimmage yards and a rushing TD in the past three meetings.
Jaguars WR Allen Robinson has 336 receiving yards and three TD catches in the past three meetings. Since 2015, he has 20 receiving TDs, tied for third in the NFL.
For the first time in years, the Titans have to guard against overconfidence. A shot at the AFC South title and a playoff spot in a Week 17 showdown with Houston is theirs for the taking as long as they don't overlook the Jaguars. The firing of Bradley and insertion of Marrone could give the Jaguars some motivation, but can their offensive and defensive lines match the Titans? Doubtful.
OUR PICK: Titans, 27-21.