NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Jaguars on Saturday night at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
Here's a look at six things to watch in the contest:
QB Josh Dobbs
The Titans will start Josh Dobbs at quarterback against the Jaguars, and what a spot he's in. Just over two weeks after joining the team, Dobbs is the guy trying to lead the team into the playoffs. The former University of Tennessee star handled himself pretty well in his Titans debut last week – he completed 20-of-39 passes for 232 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He made some really nice throws, and he gave the offense a spark. Now, the Titans need Dobbs to be at his best in a pressure-packed situation on Saturday night. Can he rise to the occasion?
The Titans, of course, need to take pressure off Dobbs, and they have just the man to do it – running back Derrick Henry. A big night from Henry would help play-action, and the entire passing. Henry has been beastly vs the Jaguars – he's averaged 105.3 rushing yards per game with 15 touchdowns in 12 career games vs Jacksonville. He needs just three yards to pass former Titans RB Eddie George (1,226) for the most yards for any player vs the Jaguars. The Jaguars have allowed 28 rushes of 10-plus yards on inside runs, the most in the NFL. The Titans will look to have success running the ball inside and out.
Seeing receiver Treylon Burks pop up on the Injury Report this week with a groin injury was not a welcome sight. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said the team expects Burks to be OK, however. The Titans need to make plays in the passing game, and they're going to need all of their targets, including Burks, to be on point. In the team's Week 17 game against the Cowboys, I counted at least four drops. The Titans need to be at their best around Dobbs, and that includes the reshaped o-line, receivers, tight ends and running backs.
The Titans don't want to see any of these on their end. In the team's 36-22 loss to the Jaguars back on December 11, the Titans turned the ball over four times, including one by Henry that changed the momentum of the game. Henry has had more fumbling issues of late, and he's beaten himself up over it. Let's face it – the Titans can't beat themselves in this one. The Jaguars have been an opportunistic team this season, and they're good enough to beat the Titans without help.
Fluster Trevor Lawrence
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is developing into a real gem right before our eyes. The second-year QB has thrown for 3,901 yards and 24 touchdowns, with only eight interceptions. In the team's win over the Titans in Nashville, he completed 30-of-42 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns. The Titans need to be disruptive up front with defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, DeMarcus Walker and Teair Tart leading the way, and they'll need to make plays in the secondary as well.
What's at Stake
At the end of the day on Saturday, one of these teams will be celebrating, and the other will be disappointed, and likely facing the reality their offseason is about to begin. The Titans are in a true win-or-go-home situation while they attempt to win their third straight AFC South crown. The organization hasn't won three division titles in a row since 1960 to 1962. The Titans have a chance to earn their fourth consecutive playoff berth since the franchise made seven consecutive appearances from 1987 to 1993. The Jaguars, meanwhile, could still get in as a Wild Card, but they need the Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers to all lose. The Jaguars would win the division if the game ends in a tie, based on their earlier win vs Tennessee.