Jaguars vs. Titans Odds
The Jaguars and Titans battle for the AFC South lead as both teams enter this week 1-0.
Jacksonville enters Week 2 after shocking the football world by upsetting the division favorite Colts despite being an 8-point underdog. Meanwhile, the Titans narrowly escaped the Broncos, needing a field goal with 17 seconds remaining to walk away on top.
As of this writing, the line has been bet down from the open of Jaguars +11 to Jaguars +7.5, and while +11 might be high, moving the line down to +7.5 seems to be an overreaction to what we saw in Week 1.
I’ll be riding with the Titans. Let’s explore why.
The young Jaguars offense played well against a quality Colts defense. Led by quarterback Gardner Minshew, who completed 19 of his 20 pass attempts and threw for three touchdowns. This kind of efficiency led to a 70.9 mark in ESPN’s Total QBR — the third-highest single-game QBR for Minshew, which far outpaces his total QBR of 44.6 from 2019.
While the offense was playing better than expected, it was not thanks to the offensive line: Minshew was pressured on 28.6% of dropbacks while rookie running back James Robinson was given only 1.3 yards before contact per rush — 13th-worst of 52 qualified players.
This offensive line will have another tough task as it tries to slow down Jadeveon Clowney and the Titans’ defensive front.
Ninth-overall pick C.J. Henderson led the Jags defense, as he recorded three pass deflections, one interception and helped force a passer rating of only 24.1 when targeted. While Henderson played at a high level, the other defensive backs struggled as they couldn’t allow a passer rating under 108.3. The Titans should have the offensive weapons to attack the Jaguars defensive backs who struggled in coverage.
We might be viewing the Titans differently right now had Stephen Gostkowski not missed three field goals and an extra point in the season opener. As a Titans -2.5 backer last week, I feel your pain. But we can’t let the memory tarnish this week.
The question this offseason was all about whether Ryan Tannehill could maintain the level he played at last year. He showed potential of that on Monday night, producing a QBR of 73.8, better than the 64.2 he produced during the 2019 regular season and the 68.6 of the 2019 postseason. While the connection was not there with A.J. Brown until the last drive, Tannehill was in sync with Corey Davis, who hauled in seven passes for 101 yards.
The task for this passing attack will be a little tougher since Brown has already been ruled out for Sunday. However, I still expect Davis, Adam Humphries and Jonnu Smith to cause trouble for the Jaguars defense.
While this offense did not run the ball as efficiently as it did down the stretch last year, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry in the opener, it was an improvement from its performance against the Broncos in 2019 in which the Titans averaged 1.9 yards per touch on the ground.
The Jaguars kept Colts RB Jonathan Taylor to 22 yards on nine carries last week, but I expect that was mostly due to him being a rookie getting used to the NFL in his first game. Veterans Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack combined for 54 yards on 11 carries, showing this run defense can be taken exploited.
Derrick Henry should have similar success as the veterans.
The Titans defense struggled in the first half of Week 1, allowing four drives of 25 or more yards. In the second half, it allowed only one and would prevent the Broncos from gaining a first down on three of their six drives.
Many teams struggled during their openers due to lack of preseason, and I expect the Titans to look more like the team that showed up in the second half once the cobwebs were shaken off.
The Titans will have learned from the Colts to not overlook the Jaguars and will come out ready to play. This should lead to a game script the Titans prefer to follow: Get out to a lead and ride Henry to put the game away.
Our experts’ consensus power ratings project this spread at Titans -8.7, showing value at the current number.
PICK: Titans -7.5