NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans and Jaguars are playing to stay in the AFC South race on Thursday night at EverBank Field. The nation will see it on NFL Network.
Here's a look at five keys/things to watch in Thursday's game:
Stay hot, Marcus**
Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has been uncanny on the road this season. He's thrown for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in his three starts, including a pair of four touchdown games. The Titans are 2-1 in those contests. The Jaguars are 2-2 at home this season, and ranked 24th in the NFL in pass defense. Mariota said earlier this week he thrives in hostile environments. He'll be tested against the Jaguars.
Young WRs, step up
With Justin Hunter on Injured Reserve and Kendall Wright out, the Titans desperately need receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to step up and be consistent. Green-Beckham has shown flashes, but he's also made mistakes. Harry Douglas could be one of Mariota's top targets outside the tight ends, but others will need to help. The Titans have some youngsters in the mix – Tre McBride, Andrew Turzilli and Rico Richardson.
Slow down the Jags WRs
Jaguars receivers Allen Robinson (758 yards) and Allen Hurns (697 yards) have put up huge numbers so far. Aside from their receiving yards, they've also scored seven touchdowns each. The Titans need to pressure quarterback Blake Bortles, but coverage will be key as well. Jason McCourty was put on IR this week, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson has been ruled out. Veteran Perrish Cox is expected back, however, and he'll play alongside Coty Sensabaugh. Young corners Cody Riggs and B.W. Webb will need to also play well.
Run the ball**
It's easier said than done against the Jaguars, ranked first in the NFL by allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. Titans running back Antonio Andrews was stopped dead in his tracks against the Panthers, and the team's inability to run the football ultimately spelled doom for the offense. Is this the week David Cobb is active and helps in the run game? Interim coach Mike Mularkey hinted it might be.
Win the turnover battle
The Titans continue to hurt themselves with costly turnovers, and they continue to prove they can't win without winning the turnover battle. The Titans have won the turnover battle twice – at Tampa Bay and at New Orleans – this season, and they won both games. They were minus-2 against the Panthers and Dolphins, and minus-3 against the Browns and Texans, and of course lost all those. The Titans need to force Bortles into mistakes, and it's possible – he's thrown 11 interceptions in nine games.