Autry

With mounting injuries and back-to-back losses to the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, the bye week could not have come at a better time for the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee, which is 3-0 after its bye week under head coach Mike Vrabel, hosts the 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium on Sunday, and the pressure is on the Titans with just five games left and the suddenly red-hot Indianapolis Colts making a late-season push.

When the college season is essentially done, we are just getting started,” Vrabel said. “That is how this thing goes. It is about how you play in December, in January and after Thanksgiving. Hopefully we are ready to go.”

Tennessee and Jacksonville have already met once this season — a 37-19 win for the Titans — and the Jaguars have not had the best go of things in Urban Meyer’s first year as head coach. 

Ranked 25th offensively and 23rd defensively, Jacksonville poses little threat to the Titans. Although, similar things were said in Week 4 when they played the New York Jets and just three weeks ago when they played Houston.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence may not have the prettiest numbers, but there’s no question he’s been effective in spurts this year. The 22-year-old is currently on pace for the third-most single-season pass attempts, the 11th-most passing yards and the 10th fewest sacks by a rookie QB.

“He is extremely talented and mobile,” Vrabel said of Lawrence. “I know he is really, really good in play action and some of those half roles in the throwbacks, for him to be able to move the launch point and throwback. He had a couple of those on us and other people as well. Arm talent is there. He makes a lot of throws. He is willing to stand in there and take some shots too.”

Here’s a further look at Sunday’s matchup:

Why the Titans can win

Tennessee is rested, recharged and healthier than it was two weeks ago during a 36-13 loss to New England.

The Titans designated Julio Jones, Racey McMath and Dane Cruikshank to return from injured reserve on Monday, and claimed inside linebacker Zach Cunningham off waivers from the Texans.

We obviously didn’t play our best football leading up to the bye,” QB Ryan Tannehill said. “As we look back, we have put ourselves in a position where everything we wanted is still in front of us. It is just a matter of going out, executing and playing good football as we finish down the stretch.”

Before their recent two-game skid, the Titans won six in a row and looked to be the top team in the AFC. While they’ve slipped to the No. 2 seed in the conference, behind New England, the Titans simply have more to play for.

The top seed and a first-round playoff bye are especially important for a team that could use an extra week while its top player (Henry) is recovering from a broken foot.

Why the Jaguars can win

Jacksonville may be playing Tennessee when it is at its most vulnerable.

The Titans offense has been struggling after the loss of Derrick Henry, and Tannehill, who ranks second in the NFL with 13 interceptions, has been just a little off his game this season.

The Jaguars are one of the more aggressive defenses in the league — blitzing the sixth-most (31.9 percent) and hurrying the quarterback the 10th most (11.5 percent) — and with enough pressure, they could rattle Tannehill, who’s been sacked 33 times (third-most), and force him into making some poor decisions.

They are playing well,” Tannehill said of the Jags defense. “You see a lot of improvement. Their secondary is disguising, and they are doing a really good job of that. Up front, they have talent, and they are getting on the quarterback. They have speed and length which can make it tough on the offensive line. Their backers are flying around and making plays. I have a ton of respect for the way they are playing right now. It is going to be a good challenge for us.”

On paper, the Titans should win. But as we know, games aren’t played on paper.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_