Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (8-7 SU, 7-7-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday December 31st, 2017. 4:25PM (EST)
Where: Nissan Stadium Nashville, T.N.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAX +3.5/TEN -3.5
Over/Under Total: 41.5
Despite 3 consecutive losses, the Tennessee Titans will still have the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth this Sunday when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars inside Nissan Stadium. At 8-7 SU, the Titans are currently tied with both the Bills and Chargers on the season but hold the tiebreaker for the number 6 seed in the AFC due to their better conference record. Therefore the Titans simply need to beat the Jaguars this weekend to clinch a playoff berth or hope that both the Bills and Chargers lose in week 17. However, the Titans task of scoring a victory in week 17 will not come easy as they will have to accomplish that feat over their AFC South rival and division champions in the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars have already clinched their postseason position thanks to the Titans tumble in recent weeks. When Tennessee lost to the Rams last week, Jacksonville clinched the AFC South despite the fact they were upset by the 49ers in a 44-33 outcome. It was an ugly performance as Jacksonville coughed up 3 turnovers and allowed several big plays on defense in route to San Franciscos 44 point outburst. Of course the fact that Jacksonville had already clinched prior to kick off could have caused a letdown performance but either way it was rather surprising to see the 49ers post a big number against Jacksonvilles prestigious defense. Currently the Jaguars are firmly locked into the number 3 seed in the AFC and honestly do not have a lot to lose or gain from this weeks contest outside of knocking the Titans out of the playoff picture.
In most situations, this would be an ideal spot for the Jaguars to rest players for the upcoming playoffs. However, that will not be the case as Coach Doug Marrone announced on Tuesday that the Jaguars will not rest anyone and will have an all-in effort to beat Tennessee on Sunday. Therefore, we must assume the Jaguars will be giving their best effort this weekend even if the Titans have more to play towards. While that news is not refreshing for Tennessee who is on the heels of a losing streak, the Titans can refer to their week 2 convincing 37-16 victory over the Jaguars as a roadmap towards earning another victory this weekend.
In that game, Tennessee rushed for nearly 200 yards and forced several turnovers in route to the victory. In nearly of all the Jaguars losses this year, they have given up several turnovers and that will be something to keep an eye on this weekend. Despite the Titans troubles in recent weeks, they do not turn the ball over much which could be opportunistic against a Jacksonville team that has been prone to turnovers.
Still in order for the Titans to end their 3 game losing streak, they have to find some answers on the offensive side of the football. We all know that quarterback Marcus Mariota has not had a great season with just 12 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions but the Titans continue to put a lot of pressure on their young quarterback. In the last 3 games, the Titans have not rushed for more than 90 yards as a team which is simply unacceptable for a backfield that maintains a timeshare between Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. On a side note, it was announced this week that Murray has an MCL tear but will still try to play. I personally think the Titans should turn to Henry as the full-time back but either way they must be able to run the football this weekend. The Jaguars pass defense is too tough to put Mariota in another desperate situation and if that happens the Titans will be doomed.
Despite the offensive concerns, I still like the matchup for Tennessee similar to the way I liked their matchup last week against the Rams when they were getting 6.5 points. The Titans defense plays very well against the run which should limit Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to some degree. If they can force Blake Bortles into a moderate outing and perhaps come up with a few turnovers, the matchup is definitely beatable. Therefore, I am going to ride with the Titans for the 2nd straight week against the number.
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