The Tennessee Titans surely have a lot of pent-up frustration stemming from last week’s 27-24 overtime loss to the New York Jets.
Fortunately for the Titans, a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars is the equivalent to taking some Theraflu and chicken noodle soup when you’re sick: It will fix you right up.
This game shouldn’t be close on paper, however, I remember saying that last week as well and we all saw what happened at MetLife Stadium.
Jacksonville has the 30th-ranked defense, but with an offensive line as shaky as the Titans have right now, that may not mean much. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been hit far too much this season. Through four games, Tannehill has been sacked 17 times, hit 17 times, pressured 37 times and blitzed 43 times.
The Jaguars only have five sacks, but they blitz 25 percent of the time and are top 10 in the league in pressure rate (27 percent).
“They are playing good defense,” Tannehill said. “You see them come out, they are flying around, they are making big plays. Saw them against Cincinnati, a lot of third-and-longs in that first half. They are being disruptive, throwing off timing, making plays in the pass game, and really making it tough on the offense. For us, we have to go out and do our jobs and expect a Jaguars defense that is flying around and making plays.”
While the Titans may have had many questions to answer following the Jets’ debacle, the Jaguars had the biggest off-the-field distraction of the NFL season after a video surfaced of head coach Urban Meyer getting friendly with a woman who was not his wife at a bar in Ohio.
That will likely be the story that dominates the headlines right up until the opening whistle.
Here's a further look at Sunday’s matchup:
Why the Titans can win
Derrick Lamar Henry.
In 10 career games against the Jaguars, Henry has 184 carries for 1,013 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown and an average of 5.5 yards per carry. The Titans are 8-2 in those games.
Two of Henry’s five regular season 200-yard rushing games have come against Jacksonville, and this week Henry can become the first player in NFL history with four straight road games of 150 yards rushing or more.
He’s also just one touchdown shy of becoming only the third player in franchise history with 60 or more rushing touchdowns, joining Earl Campbell and Eddie George.
“They play hard against the run,” Henry said of the Jaguar’s 13th-ranked run defense. “They played a really good game against Cincinnati, especially in that first half just stopping the run, being very physical and getting to the ball. They have a lot of new guys that play very well in that system. They take pride in stopping the run and doing things well to make sure no explosive plays happen at all in the run game.”
As complimentary as Henry was of Jacksonville’s defense, the likelihood of the Jags’ slowing down the two-time defending league rushing champion doesn’t seem very high. Henry has rushed for 510 yards and four touchdowns in the first four games of the year — the best four-game start of his career. He’s on pace for another 2,000-yard season.
The stage seems set for a 25-30 carry game for Henry as the Titans take their frustrations out on their AFC South rivals.
Why the Jaguars can win
If the Jaguars have the faintest shot at winning it will be just to spite their head coach. Meyer issued several apologies to his players, coaching staff and team ownership after a video of him went viral in a compromising situation with a woman who was not his wife at a bar in Ohio.
Reports have surfaced of many Jaguars players not taking Meyer seriously and even mocking him. The team broke a huddle on Thursday with a “grind” chant, poking fun at the video of Meyer from the bar. There are serious questions about whether the first-year head coach has already lost the locker room just four games into his debut season.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_