NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Everbank Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch in the contest:
4th Start for Will Levis
The Titans turned the keys over to rookie quarterback Will Levis back in Week 8, and so far he's 1-2 as the team's starter, with 699 passing yards in the three games combined. Levis threw for four touchdowns in his NFL debut, but he hasn't thrown one since while being intercepted twice. With a win on Sunday, Levis would join Vince Young as the organization's only rookie to win two of their first four starts. The Titans need to be better around Levis in this one as he aims to pick up his first career road win.
One of the ways the ways the Titans can help Levis is by protecting him. Against the Buccaneers, Levis was sacked four times while being hit 13 times. Titans targets were also guilty of five drops, but this section is focusing on the offensive line in charge of giving Levis time. Dillon Radunz is in line to start at left tackle, and there's a chance Daniel Brunskill could be back in the mix at right guard after missing last week. Across the board, o-linemen said they need to be better as a unit, and that's especially important this week while facing Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen, who already has nine sacks and 17 QB hits this season.
Titans running back Derrick Henry has been a Jag killer over the years, with 1,373 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in 13 career games vs Jaguars, with a 105.6-yards per game average. Henry has had 200-plus rush yards and two rush TD in a game vs the Jaguars twice in his career. Henry, who has 625 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the season, needs just 40-plus yards to become the 8th player in NFL history with 9,000-plus rush yards and 80-plus rushing touchdowns over their first eight seasons. It won't be easy in this one, as the Jaguars are ranked fifth in the NFL against the run, allowing just 86.4 yards per game.
Can the Defense Make Plays?
The Titans came up with an interception (Roger McCreary) on the defense's opening series last week, but in the end just didn't make enough plays. And, on a lot of Sundays, the performance on defense hasn't been good enough. Consider the fact the Titans have just three INTs in 2023, which ranks last in the NFL, and the defense has allowed a 98.6 opponent passer rating (26th in the NFL) so far. Surprisingly, Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence has been better on the road (5-0 record, 72.5 completion %, 6 TDs, 2 INTs, 102.6 rating) than at home (1-3 record, 61.4 completion %, 3 TDs, 4 INTs, 74.1 rating) this season. The Titans would like to keep this trend going.
Reverse the Streak
A year ago, the Jaguars overcame a 3-7 start to win the AFC South with a 9-8 record. One of the biggest games that turned their season around came against the Titans in Week 14. Now, the Titans hope to jumpstart their season with a win on the road against their division rivals. Since Week 12 of 2022, the Jaguars are 12-4 (tied for 2nd in the AFC behind the Chiefs), while the Titans are 3-13, which is worst in the AFC. Can the Titans stop this ugly skid and make things interesting down the stretch? The Titans have won nine of their last 12 games against Jaguars, although they were swept in 2022.
Importance on Week 11
The Titans are underdogs for the ninth time in 10 games this season, as the Jaguars are favored by seven points. Things aren't looking great for the 3-6 Titans, who are in desperate need of a turnaround. These stats are getting bleaker by the week: Since 1990, teams that started a season 4-6 have made the playoffs 7.8% of the time, won the division 2.2% of the time and won the Super Bowl 0.0% of the time. The percentages for teams that started 3-7: 1.6% for playoffs, 1.6% for division and 0.0% for Super Bowl. An ugly stat: The Titans are 0-6 away from Nissan Stadium in 2023.