You either have to be a devout football fan or plan to wager in some form on Thursday’s NFL game to care much about it, as two of the league’s worst teams this decade face off with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. More likely than not, both teams will have different head coaches in 2017. But, the terrible AFC South Division is still winnable for both! The Titans aren’t favoured in many games, but they are for this one on Sports Interaction NFL odds.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Point spread: Titans -3
Date: Thursday, Oct. 27, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville
The Jaguars (2-4) are in the AFC South basement but just a game behind first-place Houston in the loss column. It’s quite possible only a 7-9 record will be needed to win the South.
Jacksonville had a two-game winning streak end Sunday in a 33-16 home loss to Oakland. I don’t think there’s any chance that Coach Gus Bradley returns next season as the team is now 14-40 under him. And the silly mistakes continued in the loss to the Raiders. The Jaguars had three turnovers and 13 penalties, including a few out-of-control personal fouls, for 112 yards.
The next head coach likely will have an offensive/quarterback background because QB Blake Bortles is regressing. He set franchise records for yards and touchdowns a year ago, but was 23-for-43 for 246 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions vs. the Raiders. One of those picks was thrown into triple coverage into the end zone. Turnovers are a major issue with him.
Bradley reaffirmed this week that Bortles remains his starter, but that’s only because Chad Henne is the No. 2. Bortles’ rating of 76.4 is 28th in the NFL and his nine interceptions are the third-most. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft is the worst third-down passer in the NFL as well. Bortles has a terrific receiving duo of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, so Bortles’ numbers should be better. To be fair, he has gotten little from his ground game.
The Titans (3-4) also saw a two-game winning streak end Sunday. They scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to take a lead against the visiting Indianapolis Colts, but Indy scored 14 points in the final two minutes to win 34-26 and keep Andrew Luck unbeaten in his career when starting against Tennessee.
With under two minutes left, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked and stripped of the ball, and Colts defensive end Robert Mathis returned it 14 yards for the clinching touchdown. That was a blemish on an otherwise solid game for the second-year former Heisman winner from Oregon. Mariota threw for 232 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. In the last three weeks, his eight touchdown passes are tied for the most in the NFL and Mariota has a stellar 113.1 rating.
Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray had his third 100-yard game of the year Sunday with 107 yards and a TD on 25 carries. He has proven a wise trade acquisition this offseason from Philadelphia as Murray is third in the NFL in rushing.
The Titans are at a minimum going to be without starting left guard Quinton Spain and cornerback Perrish Cox in this game due to injuries suffered vs. the Colts. Receiver Tajae Sharpe hurt his knee and is in question as is tight end Delanie Walker (back).
Tennessee surprised many by keeping head coach Mike Mularkey this past offseason, but it would be a minor upset if he’s back next year barring a run to the playoffs.
Jaguars vs. Titans Prediction
These teams have split the season series each of the past seven seasons. The Titans’ only AFC South wins the past two years came against Jacksonville. I expect the home team to hold serve in both meetings this year again. Take the Titans at -2.5 on the alternate line at -152 and go under that total as the under has hit in four of the past five meetings.