If you’re looking forward to watching tonight’s matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars on the NFL Network, you’re either a Draftnik who wants to see who’ll have a shot at the top pick; you have a son on one of the teams; or you have a serious gambling problem.
It’s hard to imagine any other motivation for tuning in for a pairing of the two of the NFL’s worst franchises, who sport matching 2–12 records. Of course, we are talking about professional football players (of a sort), so some small measure of pride and athleticism will still be on display at EverBank Field. We hope.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguarss
Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Spread: Jacksonville -3.5
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Tennessee’s Key to Victory: A Mistake-Free Game from Clipboard Charlie
Third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is being forced back into action for the Titans following injuries to Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker, but the news isn’t all bad on the Titans QB front. Whitehurst led the Titans to victory in the last meeting between these two teams, completing 17-of-28 passes for 233 yards in Tennessee’s 16–14 Week 6 win over Jacksonville in Nashville. If the Titans are to snap an NFL-worst eight-game losing streak, Whitehurst needs to protect the football and make some plays in the passing game. Whitehurst’s 89.1 passer rating actually leads the team (albeit in limited action), and his 5-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio is respectable. “I feel good about Charlie and what he's done. ... He started against Jacksonville the last time and played a pretty good game,” said coach Ken Whisenhunt. “He’s been a great support in the room, and we have confidence in him that when he plays he’s going to be successful.”
[inline_team_schedule team-id=12 date=20141123 sport=nfl upcoming=1 limit=8][/inline_team_schedule]
Jacksonville’s Key to Victory: Protect Blake Bortles
When Jags rookie Blake Bortles has had time to throw, he’s looked like a competent quarterback. Sadly, though, he’s had virtually no time to throw at any point this season. Bortles has been sacked an NFL-worst 41 times since Oct. 9 alone, and that punishment has to be adding up and putting a dent in his confidence when he drops back to pass. Bortles has 15 interceptions and a meager 70.9 passer rating, learning the hard way how tough life in the NFL can be. “In college, you can run around and do more stuff, but in the NFL guys are a lot faster and stronger,” he said. “So it’s a little more difficult. You want to be able to get rid of the ball and live another down, not lose 5, 10 yards on third down and create longer field-goal situations. Those are definitely things I’m working on.” The Jags would gladly take a repeat of Bortles’ Nov. 30 showing against the Giants, when he threw for 194 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a 25–24 Jags win. If given time, he can easily produce similar numbers against a struggling Titans defense.
The stats say that these teams are in the NFL’s bottom five in both offense and defense, and the stats don’t lie. The Jags have managed to force 18 turnovers, two more than the Titans, so we’ll go with that as our tiebreaker.