Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5 SU, 0-5 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (1-4 SU, 1-3-1 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date and Time: Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tennessee
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAC +6/TENN -6
Over/Under Total: 44
On Sunday in an AFC South battle, the Jacksonville Jaguars head into Memphis to take on the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars are coming off a 17-9 home loss to Pittsburgh to fall to 0-5 on the season. Unfortunately, things arent going much better for the Titans. They opened 2014 with a 17-point win at Arrowhead, but any hopes have since been dashed with 4 straight losses. On Sunday, the slide continued when a late Browns touchdown cost the Titans a much-needed win.
This is undoubtedly the least-clamored-for game on the NFL schedule this week, if not for the whole season so far. In ten combined games, these teams have only won and covered a single game and that was in week one. Its especially disappointing for Tennessee, a team that had hopes heading into this season after a promising 2013. And other than last weeks loss the Browns, the other losses werent all that close. In losing to the Cowboys, Bengals, and Colts, the Titans were outscored 100-34.
When looking for silver lining with the Jaguars, you have to look hard. The 8-point loss to the Steelers on Sunday actually represents progress. They were in the game for most of it. Thats a big step up from the last several weeks. After somehow getting to a 17-0 halftime lead against the Eagles in week one, the Jaguars had been outscored 155-41 until facing Pittsburgh. So you can say the 8-point loss is a step in the right direction.
Tennessee should be feeling some pressure. If they dont beat Jacksonville at home, this season will have descended into a full-fledged disaster. And they may have to do it without oft-injured quarterback Jake Locker, who as of press time, is dealing with heavy swelling on a bruised thumb. On Sunday, they turned to veteran backup Charlie Whitehurst, who was pretty good in relief and is generally a capable guy. On Sunday, he was 13-for-21 with 2 touchdown throws.
Blake Bortles, the rookie Jaguars quarterback, is stepping into a bad situation, but at least seems more capable of getting this sluggish offense moving. It wont be easy. The entire offense consists of guys who would struggle to get playing time in most NFL offenses. With a line that isnt helping, Bortles is off to a rough start, with 3 touchdowns and 6 picks in 3 games. RB Toby Gerhart is averaging a woeful 2.6 yards per carry and Denard Robinson isnt much better at 3.1, though he has been useful at times. Allen Hurns is a good rookie WR, an undrafted product out of Miami. Allen Robinson, another rookie, has also been productive at times. And Cecil Shorts is a solid receiver, but is questionable for this week and has not played since week 4. But make no mistake, this offense needs a major infusion of life.
Jacksonvilles defense has been in the dumps, but it has been showing signs of improvement. In the first half against the Eagles and even last week against the Steelers, there were good signs, with the D looking enthused and aggressive. The problem is that they havent been able to put together a full 4 quarters of good play yet. And when they get in a funk, they make things awfully easy for opposing offenses. For the most part, Jacksonville has been having big trouble stopping the pass.
Tennessee will be in a good spot to get their struggling offense in gear. If its Locker, great, but Whitehurst is a guy looking to embrace opportunities after getting so few in his decade-long career. As a team, the Titans are averaging a robust 6 yards per carry. Shonn Greene and rookie Bishop Sankey havent been lighting the world on fire, but are at least productive when they get the ball. TE Delanie Walker is quietly having a big season and Justin Hunter is a nice vertical threat. WR Kendall Hunter should also get some looks on Sunday against a beleaguered Jacksonville secondary.
The common/casual view of this game, for those who are paying it any mind in the first place, is that the Jaguars are circling the drain. Meanwhile, the Titans are a disappointment, but a better candidate to get things on the right track. In this case, the first impression, the surface analysis, might actually be right. But Jacksonville appears surprisingly upbeat despite their dire predicament. In contrast, Tennessee has been getting pounded with one negative event after the next. If Locker is indeed out of action for any amount of time, thats just another in a long line in setbacks and it wont be long before the Titans start sagging from the misery of it all.
It requires at least a small leap-of-faith to back Jacksonville at this point. But we have to assume that betting against Jacksonville all season is not a road to riches. All that square money pouring in on the Jags week after week keeps getting paid off and the gravy train has to end, right? Trying to time it could be a costly endeavor, but it actually looks like this should be a close game where a clear winner doesnt immediately spring to mind. Ill take the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im taking the Jacksonville Jaguars plus 6 points.