Titans look to keep playoff hopes alive against Jaguars
The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Jacksonville Jaguars already have fallen quickly, from being a win away from their first Super Bowl berth in January to last in the AFC South in December.
The Tennessee Titans desperately want to avoid joining them as a one-and-done playoff team, especially after sweeping the Jaguars last season.
“That’s something we can’t allow to happen,” Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “We want to keep them where they’re at — at the end of the division and leave them there. We got to make sure we take care of our part. At the end of the day, we can’t worry about them. We have to worry about ourselves because we ain’t played so hot this year ourselves.”
That’s very true. The Titans (6-6) had to rally from 16 points down to beat the Jets 26-22 to snap a two-game skid. Tennessee likely needs to win out and get some help with four teams between the Titans and the second AFC wild-card berth they earned last season.
The Jaguars (4-8) may not be mathematically finished just yet after snapping a seven-game skid with a 6-0 shutout of Andrew Luck and the Colts last weekend. Cody Kessler now has a start under his belt, and running back Leonard Fournette will be back from suspension, too. But the Jaguars have lost three straight and five of the last six to Tennessee.
“Three straight times?” Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. “Dang. We’re going to go out and make sure we get the win. That’s all we’ve got to focus on.”
Fournette’s return from a one-game suspension for fighting during the Jaguars’ loss to the Bills on Nov. 25 could be key considering the Titans have allowed 281 and 156 yards rushing over the past two games.
“Fournette should be very fresh and have a little pep in his step, and hopefully he can give us a spark that we need,” Jaguars defensive tackle Calais Campbell said.
On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars will need to do a better job of containing Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The Saint Louis School graudate has burned the Jaguars with his feet, including an 87-yard touchdown run in 2015. Mariota has a combined 135 yards rushing in Tennessee’s three-game winning streak in the series, including 51 in Week 3’s 9-6 victory. He also led the Titans with 43 yards rushing last week against the Jets and threw for 282 yards.
“Super challenging,” Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “You just have to cover for even longer. It’s kind of like a scramble drill. It will turn into backyard football with made-up routes to try to get open and help their quarterback out, so it makes it tough on us.”