The Tennessee Titans take on the divisional rival Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2.
Jacksonville is coming off an impressive win against the Indianapolis Colts. Entering this season as favorites to compete with Tennessee for the AFC South crown, the Colts lost in an upset, as the Jaguars played spoiler in their season opener.
The Jaguars are obviously not the same team, especially on defense, as the squad that was a few plays away from the Super Bowl in 2018. The roster has essentially been gutted, and a lot of talent has left the franchise, including Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, and Leonard Fournette.
However, Jacksonville still has a lot of young and talented players who want to be there.
DERRICK HENRY VS. JAGUARS FRONT-SEVEN
Derrick Henry has wreaked absolute havoc against the Jaguars recently. If history tells us anything, Henry should be primed for a big day.
In his last four games against Jacksonville, Henry has averaged 124.5 yards per game, and has particularly dominated in the friendly confines of Nissan Stadium. In their last two meetings at home, Henry has rushed for 159 yards and 238 yards, respectively.
If the former Alabama alum finds similar success on Sunday, the Jaguars have no shot at winning the game. Jacksonville was impressive against Indianapolis last week in defending the run, limiting the Colts to 88 rushing yards. The Jaguars’ Josh Allen will have to be disruptive on the front line, potentially causing turnovers to limit Tennessee’s potent rushing attack.
COREY DAVIS VS. C.J. HENDERSON
Second-year WR A.J. Brown has been ruled out for the game with a bone bruise in his knee. Corey Davis will seek to continue his impressive performance in the season opener against a highly-talented and touted rookie cornerback in C.J. Henderson.
Henderson was selected ninth-overall in the 2020 draft out of Florida. He made big-time plays last week, whether it was intercepting 17-year veteran Philip Rivers or making crucial tackles on third down. At times, when he was matched with T.Y. Hilton, Henderson showed flashes of a potential lockdown corner. Henderson had three pass break-ups and recorded the highest grade (84.2) of all cornerbacks in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus.
If the Titans’ running game stumbles out of the gate, Davis will have to win his match-up to help Tennessee get off to a 2-0 start.
GARDNER MINSHEW VS. TITANS SECONDARY
Gardner Minshew had an incredibly efficient game last week, completing 19-of-20 pass attempts and throwing for three touchdowns. The Titans’ secondary is banged-up. Adoree’ Jackson is on IR and Malcom Butler is listed as questionable. There are opportunities for Minshew to exploit this vulnerable secondary.
Last week, Broncos quarterback Drew Lock had success throwing on the move against the Titans. While Minshew may not be as athletic as Lock, I would expect head coach Doug Marrone to move Minshew out of the pocket on play-action passes to mitigate the Titans pass rush and extend drives. I don’t expect Minshew to complete 90% of his passes again, but rolling him out of the pocket will help the Jaguars offense. This will also create fewer opportunities for the Titans pass rush to have an influence on the game.
I believe the game will be a lot closer than many people think.
Divisional games are usually closely contested, and with COVID-19 precautions in place, home atmosphere is no longer an advantage. Although Derrick Henry has been a nightmare for the Jaguars in the past, he is coming off of a short week and a heavy workload. I would expect his touches to be fewer than thirty, as the Jaguars are also coming off an impressive defensive performance against the run.
However, I expect the Tennessee Titans offense, led by Ryan Tannehill, to continue their efficiency and produce just enough to secure the victory.
Pick: Titans 23, Jaguars 14
(Featured Image Credit: Donald Page / TennesseeTitans.com)