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Titans vs. Jaguars Monday Night Football Preview

This is a big game for the Titans.  The Texans and Colts both won yesterday, so this game takes on even more importance because the loser falls a game back in the division.  This is also one of those games where the Titans are the better team, and it is crucially important to win those games.

The Jags have had a tough schedule early and have held up well at 3-2:

Regular Season
Wk Date Game Time (ET) Attendance Top Passer Top Rusher Top Receiver
1 Sep 12 DEN 17 @ JAC 24 Final 63,636 Kyle Orton
295 Yds (DEN)
Maurice Jones-Drew
98 Yds (JAC)
Brandon Lloyd
117 Yds (DEN)
2 Sep 19 JAC 13 @ SD 38 Final 62,691 Philip Rivers
334 Yds (SD)
Mike Tolbert
82 Yds (SD)
Mike Sims-Walker
105 Yds (JAC)
3 Sep 26 PHI 28 @ JAC 3 Final 63,256 Michael Vick
291 Yds (PHI)
Maurice Jones-Drew
88 Yds (JAC)
DeSean Jackson
153 Yds (PHI)
4 Oct 03 IND 28 @ JAC 31 Final 63,111 Peyton Manning
352 Yds (IND)
Maurice Jones-Drew
105 Yds (JAC)
Reggie Wayne
196 Yds (IND)
5 Oct 10 JAC 36 @ BUF 26 Final 58,304 Ryan Fitzpatrick
220 Yds (BUF)
Maurice Jones-Drew
84 Yds (JAC)
Lee Evans
87 Yds (BUF)

As you can see from the game leaders above, Jacksonville has given up a lot of yards passing (385 per game) and a lot of points (27.4 per game).  It would make a lot of sense for the Titans to come out throwing in this game just like they did against the Cowboys.  Test that weak pass defense early and open up some things for Chris Johnson.  Vince Young has played very efficient football for most of the season, and now that Kenny Britt is starting to look like the #1 receiver he was drafted to be, it just makes sense to take some shots early in the game.

The Jaguars are currently 12th against the run allowing 102.8 yards per game, but they really haven't faced any strong rushing offenses yet.  There is no doubt in my mind that they will come up with the box loaded up to stop CJ, especially after he torched them for 228 yards in the second meeting last year. 

The Titans looked more like the 2009 Titans last week running the ball.  Some of that was due to the early success VY had through the air, but it also looked like the offensive line played better even though they were missing Leroy Harris.  Harris is probable to play, and Eugene Amano, who wasn't able to finish the game against Dallas, is listed as questionable after injuring his ankle in practice on Saturday.  August tells me he will be ready to go.  Hopefully this unit will continue to gel and open up some lanes for CJ.

Defensively the Titans just need to keep doing what they have been doing.  David Garrard doesn't pose the threat that guys like Tony Romo and Eli Manning did, so if they give up huge passing yard totals tonight it is a cause for concern.  Garrard is very limited in his ability to throw the ball down the field, so I expect the Titans to move the corners and safeties up and get after him.

Obviously Maurice Jones-Drew will be the focus of the Titans defensive game plan.  MJD had 3 touchdowns in the Titans two meetings last year with two of those coming on huge runs in the second game.  His long runs almost always come when he breaks tackles, so wrapping him up will be the key.

I consider this game a must win for the Titans.  It is not like the season is over if they don't win it, but they need it to keep pace in the division and gain some more momentum heading into a pretty rough stretch of the schedule.

Prediction: 28-10 Titans