The Titans just got manhandled by a much better team in the second half on Sunday. It was good to see some fight and fire, but it would have been tough for them to win outside of a bunch of crazy turnovers going their way. They were simply over matched. As team with a young and super talented and athletic quarterback, small market and loyal fanbase, the Panthers looked like an evolved version of the Titans, hopefully. We will see in the coming years. Onto the next opponent:
Reasons For Confidence: Jaguars' Offensive Line, Turnovers
Jaguars' Offensive Line: Another year, another Jaguars' offensive line that is struggling to protect their quarterback. According to Football Outsiders, this unit is ranked 27th in pass protection. Meanwhile, the Titans' defensive line is ranked 2nd overall in the league as far as rushing the passer. With Brian Orakpo, Daquan Jones, and Jurrell Casey playing at a high level and with favorable matchups, Blake Bortles could be under a lot of pressure on Thursday Night. Don't forget about Dick Lebeau and Ray Horton's creative blitzes either, which should cause even more problems.
Turnovers: With the amount of pressure that Blake Bortles should be under on Thursday Night, I would not be surprised to see him give the defense a few. Bortles is fourth in the league in interceptions with 11. Similar to the week one matchup against Jameis Winston, if the defense simply sits back and does its job, Bortles should give them a few opportunities. With heavy pressure, it may be more than a few.
Reasons For Concern: Jaguars' Wide Receivers, Conservative Approach, Jaguars' Run Defense
Jaguars' Wide Receivers: The Jaguars' top two receiving threats, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, are very talented. Hurns had a strong rookie reason, and has only gotten better this year. He's a little banged up, but indications are that he will be ready to go on Thursday. Meanwhile, Robinson has emerged as a top 10 wide receiver in the league. Very big and very physical, he may take over against the Titans' depleted secondary. He has been effective in just about every game, even two weeks ago against Darrelle Revis. He is the real deal. Julius Thomas will be a factor as well, especially considering that the Titans struggled so much against another tight end in Greg Olsen a few days ago.
Conservative Approach: Disclaimer-- personally, I am viewing this as a lost season from this point forward, so while it may not be the most effective approach on offense, if it keeps Marcus Mariota upright for the rest of the season, I will not complain. Now, that being said, with the Titans' lack of outside threats at wide receiver--Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter are out--and the Titans keeping extra men at the line to protect Mariota, it will be very difficult to make plays through the air, like it was on Sunday in the second half against Carolina. There's a trade-off, and personally, I will take it to get through the season, but do not be surprised if the offense has trouble moving the ball through the air.
Jaguars' Run Defense: This makes things even tougher. If the Titans can't move the ball through the air, they will have to be able to run. Unfourtunately, the Jaguars' have one of the best run defenses in the league. On Sunday, outside of the Dexter McCluster touchdown run, the Titans' running backs collectively ran the ball 15 times for 15 yards. Against another top run defense, they could be have a similar, ineffective day on the ground.
Prediction: This is a tough game to predict. Divisional games are always tough. I usually don't have any idea on what I will predict until I finish writing the post. After looking at the reasons of confidence, I was fully prepared to predict a win because the defense should play well, but the offense may struggle just as much. Since Jacksonville is at home, I decided to give them the edge. Jaguars win, 17-13.