Tennessee Titans (2-7 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6 SU, 5-4 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Ever Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
TV: NFL Network
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEN+3/JAC -3
Over/Under Total: 43.5
In this weeks installment of Thursday Night Football, the Tennessee Titans make the trip to EverBank Field to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans continued their slide on Sunday, losing to the unbeaten Carolina Panthers, 27-10, to drop to 2-7. They have dropped 7 of their last 8 games. They will play Jacksonville for the first of two times in three weeks on Thursday coming off the short week after playing the punishing Panthers. Jacksonville had a productive Sunday, winning their first road game of the season in beating the Baltimore Ravens, 22-20.
The Jaguars look to have taken at least a small step forward this season. They had a good win in London over Buffalo where they showed some resolve and grit, before losing to the Jets by 5 on the road, and then the nice win over the Ravens on Sunday. They have covered the spread every time out since October 18 and their 5-4 ATS record suggests they are playing better than expected at times this season. Their bottom-line may not reflect it, but there has been measurable progress this season.
Conversely, the Titans are in a swoon, having dropped 7 of 8 games and coming off a non-competitive home loss to the Panthers. It was their second game since firing head coach Ken Whisenhunt. They won their first game under interim head coach Mike Mularkey when they defeated the Saints in their previous game, a win that helped them equal their win total from all of last season. But the issues remain many for this Titans team. They can sometimes play good defense, but rookie Marcus Mariota struggles at quarterback with an offense that languishes more often than not.
Mariota actually hasnt been playing all that badly, considering the limited tools at his disposal and a line that isnt particularly adept at pass-protection or in opening holes up for the running-game. They really struggle to run the ball. And other than a really good tight end in Delanie Walker, the available ball-catchers on this team is a limited group of non-impactful role players. Mariota has 13 touchdown passes with 6 picks and is completing over 65% of his passes. One wonders how well Mariota would be doing if he took over a better-stocked offense. Other than Walker, this offense is comprised of guys who would struggle to crack the rotation in a lot of offenses around the league.
The Titans actually have a pretty good defense. Again, one wonders what would be possible if this D was able to benefit from having an offense that can run the ball and keep them off the field. Their secondary has been very serviceable for the most part this season. And their overall scrappiness has allowed the Titans to stay in some games this season, though the offense hasnt been able to get the job done. Among their losses this season are defeats by 1, 2, and 3 points. Theyve been pretty competitive. It may be fair to call Tennessee a bad team, but within this context, they should be right in their wheelhouse.
In most situations, one could easily rule both of these teams out, but not so fast in the abysmal AFC South, where the first place team has 4 wins, as we start preparing for week 11 in the NFL. The winner of this game could very well find themselves in the thick of things. And thats especially true with Jacksonville, who can pick up their 4th win with a victory this Thursday at home.
Jacksonvilles ability to become a more competitive entity this season can be attributed to the growth within their offense. There are a lot of first and second-year players who give the Jaguars something to look ahead for in the future. You can begin to see the beginnings of a true identity forming on this offense, with QB Blake Bortles showing some major improvement behind center this season. In 5 straight games, he has thrown at least 2 touchdowns. He does a good job of getting the ball in the hands of talented second-year receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, while rookie back TJ Yeldon is looking to settle into a groove. In the last 5 games, theyve scored an average of 27 points and should continue to show improvement at home this week against a 2-win Titans bunch.
The offense is a more-dependable part of the Jaguars team than the defense so far in 2015. The main thing plaguing the Jacksonville defense is inconsistency, as their form can vary wildly from one week to the next. They arent rushing the passer enough, nor are they consistently making big plays. They are giving up over 28 points per game, which ranks near the bottom of the league.
Its been encouraging to see the Jaguars pick up wins in two of their last three games, as the close games they used to make a habit of losing are now slowly starting to fall into Jacksonvilles win column. Beating what was a struggling Buffalo team in London and a 2-win Ravens team is not a major accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, but this is a Jacksonville team that has labored so much in recent years to create something positive, that things like winning on the road and winning twice in three weeks actually means something. I like the way the Jags have been looking for the past several weeks and I think they should perform well at home in this spot.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars minus 3 points.
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