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VOL. 41 | NO. 52 | Friday, December 29, 2017

Jaguars at Titans: What to watch

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Jaguars at Titans

Sunday, Dec. 31, 3:25 p.m.

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

First down: What will the Jaguars do? Jacksonville is locked into the No. 3 spot in the AFC playoff seedings. That means there is a chance they would rest key players and not risk injuries – even though that has seldom been the M.O., of a Tom Coughlin-run organization. If the Titans win, they would most likely travel to Jacksonville for the first round of the playoffs.

Second down: Put a complete game together. The Titans through their miserable three-game swing through the NFC West have been playing just well enough to lose. When the defense played well (vs. Arizona), the offense sputtered. When the offense found a rhythm and put up points (mostly in the no-huddle vs. San Francisco and Los Angeles), the defense couldn’t hold a fourth quarter lead. It’s now or never for the Titans to put together a complete effort.

Third down: Hope Henry is ready. DeMarco Murray looks to be out (knee sprain), so that means that Derrick Henry, who has been relegated to spot duty as a backup in recent weeks, now has to carry the load in the running game. The Titans have to bank on Henry being able to get in a rhythm like he did in the first meeting against the Jags, when he had 92 yards on just 13 carries.

Fourth down: Just win, baby. For all the problems the Titans have had the past three games their playoff path is the simplest formula. It doesn’t matter if it is ugly, pretty or on a safety in overtime, the Titans just have to find some way to win.

Matchups to watch

Taylor Lewan vs. Calais Campbell. The Titans held the vaunted “Sacksonville” to just one sack of Marcus Mariota in a 37-16 thrashing of the Jaguars in the first meeting. The Titans will have to protect Mariota just as well in this one, especially since his mobility is limited.

Rishard Matthews vs. Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey, the former Brentwood Academy star, talks the talk and walks the walk as a top-tier cornerback in the league. Matthews is one of the targets Marcus Mariota relies on in key situations (along with Delanie Walker).

Titans vs. themselves. OK, this might sound silly, but for a team that blew a playoff spot with a loss to Jacksonville last year, and for one that has lost three games in a row, a do-or-die situation against the Jaguars requires complete focus and confidence. Do the Titans have what it takes to pull it off?