NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A four-game losing streak weighed heavy on the minds of everyone in the Titans' locker room this week as Tennessee (1-4) prepared for its second consecutive home game against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5).
Sunday's game could feel like déjà vu for some. Last time these two teams met at LP Field, the Jaguars got their first win of the season after dropping their first eight games. The Titans clearly plan on a different script on Sunday to keep the Jaguars and rookie quarterback Blake Bortles searching for their first 'W' in 2014.
The Jaguars have been significantly more competitive since Bortles took over under center, but they still rank 31st offensively and 32nd defensively. The Jaguars have a league-worst minus 102 point differential through five games.
Lets get into the five points of emphasis for the Titans this weekend.
Five Things to Watch
1. Pressure Bortles
After recording eight sacks through the first two games, the Titans have only one in the last three contests. In addition, Titans outside linebackers are still without a sack all season. Shaun Phillips said it's only a matter of time before the sacks start coming in bunches.
The good news for Tennessee is that Jacksonville's offensive line has surrendered the most sacks in the NFL this season at 21. This should be the week Jurrell Casey and company regain their pass rushing mojo.
2. Protect Locker/Whitehurst
On the other side of the coin, the Titans have allowed 17 sacks this season – fourth most in the league. The Jaguars' defense may be ranked last in the league, but they've tallied 16 sacks, just one shy of the NFL lead.
Andre Branch leads Jacksonville's defense with three sacks with nine other members of the unit recording at least one. It's been a team effort for Jacksonville's front seven which means the Titans' offensive line will have its hands full on Sunday.
3. Home Field Advantage
The Titans have struggled over the past few seasons holding serve at home, dropping seven of their last eight games at LP Field. No better time to turn that around than against this 0-5 Jaguars team.
4. Establish the Run
Despite holding a 25 point advantage last week against the Browns, the Titans were never able to get the running game going. Titans running backs carried the ball just 22 times for a mere 73 yards (3.32 avg.).
Alternatively, Browns running backs carried the ball 35 times for 174 yards (4.97 avg.), despite trailing until the bitter end.
It will be important for the Titans to take advantage of Jacksonville's 22nd-ranked rush defense.
5. Next Man Up
The Titans have a whole host of injuries that will have the 'next man up' philosophy in full effect. Jake Locker's wrist might give Charlie Whitehurst his second start of the season.
Michael Roos is going to have knee surgery, which means rookie Taylor Lewan will be thrust into the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.
Starting running back Shonn Greene is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury he suffered during practice this week. Rookie Bishop Sankey and Dexter McCluster will both see an increase in touches against the Jaguars.
Coty Sensabaugh's status for Sunday is up in the air with a knee injury. Brandon Harris and Marqueston Huff will fill the void at corner if Sensabaugh can't go.
Finally, with Bernard Pollard out for the season, George Wilson and Daimion Stafford gain added responsibility on the Titans defense.