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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans: Prediction, preview, pick to win

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The Sports Xchange
Blake Bortles and the Jaguars take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Blake Bortles and the Jaguars take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (10-5) AT TENNESSEE TITANS (8-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Nissan Stadium. TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 46th regular-season meeting. Titans lead series, 25-20. Tennessee won the first meeting this year 37-16 with a dominant second half in which it outscored the Jaguars 31-13. Tennessee has won three of the last four meetings and five of the last eight. Jacksonville has won just once (2013) in the last six outings at Tennessee. The only postseason meeting was a 33-14 Tennessee win in the AFC Championship Game in Jacksonville on Jan. 23, 2000.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars are locked in as the No. 3 playoff seed in the AFC, but the Titans need to win this one (or get losses by both Buffalo and the L.A. Chargers).

The Jaguars' ground attack has struggled the second half of the season and that has been Tennessee's defensive strength, ranking fifth (89.1) in the NFL. The Jaguars still lead the league in rushing, but the per-game average continues to fall.

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On the rise are QB Blake Bortles and the passing attack, despite the loss of the top four receivers for various lengths of time. Bortles threw for a career-high 382 yards last Sunday. The Titans rank 25th in stopping the pass. With wide receiver Allen Hurns likely to return for the first time in nearly two months, look for the Jaguars to unleash a steady flow of passes with the hope of building a sizeable lead that could send the starters to the bench early in the second half.

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The Titans want to stop Leonard Fournette (if he plays) or T.J. Yeldon and make Bortles uncomfortable in the pocket and in reading the coverage. It worked in Week 2, but Bortles has had flashes of improvement since then.

Offensively, Derrick Henry has been wanting to be a featured back. Now he gets his chance. The Titans might want to keep the no-huddle in the game plan, as it has been working the past two games.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Titans RB Derrick Henry vs. Jaguars DTs. Last time, Henry gashed the Jaguars for 92 yards in 14 attempts, including a 17-yard run for a touchdown. When starting RB DeMarco Murray was limited with a hamstring injury in that game, Henry took over in the second half. He gained 87 yards on 12 carries after intermission. Half of Henry's 14 carries went for six yards or more. Since that game, however, the Jaguars have added DT Marcell Dareus, who has been instrumental in helping the Jaguars go from 32nd vs. the run to 21st.

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--Jaguars QB Blake Bortles vs. Titans OLBs Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo. The Titans need to get pressure on Bortles to see whether they can get turnovers from a quarterback who has been prone to make mistakes at times. The game could come down to the turnover battle.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORTS

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

--Out: WR Marqise Lee (ankle)

--Questionable: LB Blair Brown (concussion), DT Abry Jones (back), T Cam Robinson (abdomen)

TENNESSEE TITANS

--Out: RB DeMarco Murray (knee)

--Questionable: CB Logan Ryan (ankle)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey. No question Ramsey is the heart of the secondary and is the leader/spokesman for the unit. Ramsey had seven tackles Sunday against San Francisco, but he failed to get a pass breakup or an interception. With 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns and posting a 102.4 rating, it wasn't a good day for the secondary. They came in leading the NFL with the fewest passing yards allowed (168.9), but they were shattered in the first half. Ramsey and fellow cornerback A.J. Bouye will need to tighten their coverage and show why they were both named to the Pro Bowl.

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FAST FACTS: The Jaguars won the division title for the first time since 1999 (AFC Central) and are locked in as the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. ... QB Blake Bortles passed for a career-high 382 yards last week. He has 995 passing yards (331.7 per game), nine TDs and one interception in his past three games at Tennessee. ... RB Leonard Fournette rushed for a TD last week and had a rushing TD in the last meeting, too. He has 971 rushing yards and can become the second rookie in franchise history with 1,000 rushing yards (Fred Taylor, 1,223). ... WR Keelan Cole had 108 receiving yards last week and has 393 yards and two TDs in his past three games. ... DE Yannick Ngakoue has 12 sacks and six forced fumbles in his past eight road games. He leads the NFL with six forced fumbles. ... S Barry Church aims for a third game in a row with an interception. ... The Titans can clinch a playoff berth with a win or with losses by the Bills and the Chargers. ... In his past two games at home vs. Jacksonville, Titans QB Marcus Mariota has thrown five TD passes and rushed for 123 yards and a TD. ... Titans RB Derrick Henry has 90 scrimmage yards and a rushing TD in two of the past three meetings. ... WR Rishard Matthews has a receiving TD in two of the past three games vs. Jacksonville. ... Titans S Kevin Byard is tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions.

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PREDICTION: The Titans have come up big against the Jaguars in the past, but Jacksonville will find a way to pull this one out and head into the playoffs on a high note.

OUR PICK: Jaguars, 27-24.

--Ellen Port

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