Divisional matchups are the theme in Week 14 in the National Football League with 7 of the 16 games pitting pit teams that have already played each other this season. The first of these such games is on Thursday Night in Nashville where the Tennessee Titans play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tennessee has been a hard team to handicap this season because of their inconsistency. Just when you think you have a good read on the Titans they revert back to a different form of themselves.
After losing their opener, Tennessee rattled off three consecutive wins and appeared to be a legitimate contender in the AFC South before losing three games preceding the bye week. When most experts counted the Titans out they won impressively on Monday Night in Dallas and then dominated the AFC champion Patriots 34-10 in Nissan Stadium. Unfortunately, Mike Vrabel’s group has stumbled since those two big wins against playoff competition losing on the road to both the Colts and Texans before barely gutting out a home game last Sunday versus the hapless Jets.
Despite the lack of overall consistency, the Titans have played solid defense all year for their first-year head coach. They rank sixth in the league in points allowed per game (20.4) and ninth in yards per game (340.9). At times they have given up too many big plays through the air, but in their matchup on Thursday night they should be well equipped to keep a below average Jaguars offense in check from start to finish.
Jacksonville finally got back into the win column on Sunday after losing seven streak contests dating back to a 30-14 loss in Kansas City on October 7th. The victory came with Cody Kessler, not Blake Bortles under center. The Jaguars were able to defeat the Colts last week, but it was certainly not due to their offensive production. They put up just 6 points and gained only 211 yards against a mediocre defense at home. The positive was that Kessler avoided turnovers and completed 75% of his passes. He gets the nod again this week.
The Jaguars defense had largely disappointed in 2018 after having an incredible season last year, but they were awesome on Sunday against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Assuming they play with the same emotion and discipline on Thursday night, they should be able to contain a Titans offense that lacks weapons on the outside other than second-year wideout Corey Davis and has struggled to run the football with consistency of late.
The line in this game is Titans -4, which seems about right to me. Tennessee has been a better team this year and they are at home. The problem is if the Jaguars play defense like they did against the Colts it is hard to envision the Titans scoring many points, making laying over a field goal and undesirable option.
The total is an extremely low at 37.5, which does not leave much room for error if you are on the UNDER. That being said, if these defenses do not create multiple turnovers to setup their offenses deep in opposition territory, a 17-13 type game is the likeliest outcome. I will take my chances that Kessler plays relatively mistake free and Mariota and Titans continue to struggle on third down and in the red zone.
Pick : UNDER (37.5) – 1 unit
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 34-28-5 (+4 units)