On Thursday, The Titans will face the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. The Jaguars are coming off a loss to the Texans last week. They lost when they failed a game winning two point conversion. The Titans also lost to a divisional opponent last week. The Titans lost a close game against the Colts, where a few fixed mistakes could have shifted the game.
This game should be interesting for many reasons:
1. The Jaguars have not beaten the Titans since 2016
The last time the Jaguars beat the Titans, Marcus Mariota was in just his second season and the Titans best offensive player was Demarco Murray. It seems that the Titans have "owned" the Jaguars in the past couple of years similar to the Colts "owning" the Titans.
2. Gardner Minshew is starting at Quarterback for the Jaguars
Gardner Minshew took the place of QB Nick Foles after he broke is collar bone in Week 1 vs the Chiefs. Foles signed a 4 year 88 million dollar contract this offseason, and many people had high expectations for him this season. Minshew has had one of the highest QB ratings in the first two weeks of the season. In week 2, Minshew was 23/33 with 213 yard and 1 TD. In week 1, Minshew was 22/25 with 275yds, 2 TD and 1 INT. These are great stats for a rookie QB and the Titans should not take him lightly. Minshew has the ability to get out of the pocket and he has a strong arm.
3. Marcus Mariota had a rough game last week, can he bounce back?
Many people are completely out on Marcus Mariota, and calling for Tannehill to start. I knew this was going to happen at some point during the season. Mariota did hold the ball for too long and made a few bad decisions, but the game was not completely on him. Mariota has not thrown an interception this season but it is because he has been more careful with the ball. It will be interesting to see if Mariota takes more risks down field.
4. Which team's run game will be more dominant?
The Titans have in my opinion, one of the best running backs in the NFL in Derrick Henry. The Jaguars have past Pro Bowler, Leonard Fournette. Fournette had an injury filled 2018 season and he has had a decent beginning to the 2019 season. Neither the Titans nor the Jags have a great run defense so one of the running backs may breakout on Thursday.
NFL week 3 schedule:
Titans vs Jaguars THU 7:00pm
Dolphins vs Cowboys SUN 12:00pm
Bengals vs Bills SUN 12:00pm
Lions vs Eagles SUN 12:00pm
Jets vs Patriots SUN 12:00pm
Falcons vs Jets SUN 12:00pm
Raiders vs Vikings SUN 12:00pm
Ravens vs Chiefs SUN 12:00pm
Broncos vs Packers SUN 12:00pm
Panthers vs Cardinals SUN 3:05pm
Giants vs Buccaneers SUN 3:05pm
Saints vs Seahawks SUN 3:25pm
Texans vs Chargers SUN 3:25pm
Steelers vs 49ers SUN 3:25pm
Rams vs Browns SUN 7:20pm
Bears vs Redskins MON 7:15pm
This weeks most intriguing games are Ravens vs Chiefs, Texans vs Chargers, and Rams vs Browns.
This week has been packed with NFL news. There have been many injuries with quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger's season ending elbow injury, Drew Brees' thumb ligament injury, Sam Darnold's contracting of mono, and Cam Newton's foot injury. The Injury of Ben Roethlisberger is very unfortunate because it appeared that the Steelers offense was on a downward trend from last season after losing Antonio Brown and Le'veon Bell. Additionally, Roethlisberger is getting older, so he may contemplate retiring.
In addition to the Quarterback injuries, the Steelers traded a first round pick for Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. In other DB news, Jaguars star CB requested a trade last week after a dispute with coach Doug Marrone. Ramsey has been in trade talks since the request but as of now, he will play against the Titans on Thursday.
My keys to the game for the Titans:
1. Do not let Gardner Minshew breakout
Gardner Minshew is similar to Baker Mayfield in the sense that he can boom or bust. If Minshew has a huge game, there is no telling which way the game will go. I feel confident that if the Titans pass defense continues its elite play, Minshew will be stumped and the defense will have another great week.
2. Run the Ball
This has been one of my keys in the following two weeks. Derrick Henry needs to be the focus of the offense. Derrick Henry can change any game and if he gets going he is not easy to stop. Henry has had a history of great games against the Jaguars. Last season, in the beginning of Henry's breakout, he had one of the greatest runs in NFL history. Henry totaled 4 touchdowns that game and ran for 238 yards on just 17 carries. I am not saying if Henry gets over 20 carries, he will repeat that performance, but if the Titans can get Henry going, that opens up everything.
3. Minimize undisciplined mistakes
Last week, stupid mistakes cost the Titans the game. A few examples are Tajae Sharpe not getting a first down when he was literally at the marker when he caught the ball, Marcus Mariota spiking the ball on 3rd and 2 when he should have run a play, and Adoree Jackson getting a very clear pass interference called on him toward the beginning of the game. If the Titans can avoid these mistakes, it could change the outcome of the game and prevent a loss similar to the Chargers game last season.
I have a good feeling about this game but nobody should be too confident. Anything can happen on any given week, especially when the Titans did not play a great game last week. The Jaguars still have a great defense and that scares me. If the run game gets going, and Mariota can spread the ball out and use all of his weapons, I think the Titans will win the game. I am predicting a 29-18 Titans victory, and I am obviously hoping for a big game by Derrick Henry.
The Titans are on prime time for the first and last time this season so hopefully they can make it count. If the Titans play a complete game like they did in Cleveland, they should be in good shape for Week 3.