Tonight is the final Thursday night game of the year, and this one should capitalize what has been a tough slate to watch. The winner of this game figures to lock up third place in the AFC South, while the loser increases their chances at the number one pick.
After injuries to Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker, the Titans are going back to Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. Whitehurst last started earlier this season against the Jaguars in a game the Titans won. Going against an underrated front seven, the Titans might find it tough to find rushing lanes in this one. At this point in the year, Bishop Sankey should be getting more carries so the Titans can figure out what they have in the young rookie. Despite that, Shonn Greene had 16 carries for 50 yards last week. Which back the Titans rely on is anyone’s guess.
Despite the quarterback carousel, the Titans do have some weapons to throw to. Tight end Delanie Walker has almost 800 yards on the year and could be in for a nice game tonight. The Jaguars struggle covering tight ends and Walker can stretch the field. Kendall Wright has big play speed, but is mainly utilized as more of a possession receiver. Wright is hurt, but should see a good amount of targets if he plays. Nate Washington and his 16.6 per catch average also makes him a player to watch in this one.
Not surprisingly, the Jaguars offense has struggled this season. Surrounding a physically skilled but raw quarterback with a poor offensive line and equally raw receivers can do that. Blake Bortles has had some impressive moments, but there have been a fair share of struggles. With 17 interceptions, Bortles is among the league leaders in the category and has already been sacked a whopping 46 times. While some of these sacks can be a result of Bortles and his reads, the offensive line has done him no favors.
Toby Gerhart figures to see most of the carries for the Jaguars tonight. In what has been a disappointing season, Gerhart has a chance to impress against a struggling Titans run defense. Look for him to see around 17 total touches in this one. The Jaguars leading receiver this season has been undrafted rookie Allen Hurns. A fantasy football waiver darling at the beginning of the year, Hurns has predictably cooled down. Consistency has been an issue but Bortles is willing to look his way.
Marqise Lee came into the league with more hype than Hurns, and he is starting to hit his stride. Up until last week, Lee had put together some impressive games. At this point, you just have to hope those were only signs of things to come. The other receiver Bortles has heavily targeted is Cecil Shorts III. Shorts is a nice player, but his role his been miscast due to his surroundings in Jacksonville. While some of his stat lines over the years have been nice, it’s well documented Shorts does a lot of work in garbage time. Being an impending free agent, it seems that this could be Shorts’ last home game as a Jaguar.
If you’re a fan of offense, this game could be a tough one to watch. Overall though, it should be one of the closer Thursday night games this season. My prediction is Titans 13 Jaguars (-3.5) 17