If anyone had doubts about the Jacksonville Jaguars and their status as a contender in the AFC, think no more. The Jags dominated the defending conference champs last week, sending a message to the rest of the league in the process. And they defeated New England with a strong game from Blake Bortles, who is often considered the team’s weak link. As good as the Jags were last season, they couldn’t figure out the Tennessee Titans, who won both matchups. The Titans look to continue that mastery when the clubs meet in Week 3.
Kickoff for this regular season Week 3 game is set for Sunday, September 23, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET at TIAA Bank Field.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Tennessee Titans OFF
Jacksonville Jaguars OFF
Over/Under (Check Back Later)
While oddsmakers await word on the status of Marcus Mariota and his availability, the line remains off the board. Even if the Titans quarterback gets the green light, expect the Jaguars to be at least a field goal favorite and likely closer to a touchdown.
Taylor Lewan – Tennessee’s starting tackle missed the last game with a concussion and remains in the protocol. Making matters worse is that the Titans are already without their other starting tackle as Jack Conklin continues to mend from an ACL injury. The team got creative in last week’s win over Houston having Derrick Henry take direct snaps to limit the pressure on Blaine Gabbert. Marcus Mariota is expected back in the lineup, but he’ll have his hands full against the Jags’ relentless pass rush.
Cam Robinson – A victory over the Patriots came with a cost when Robinson was lost for the season with a knee injury. The blindside protector for Bortles was lost in the first quarter creating some issues up front for the Jags, who turned to fourth-year player Josh Wells as a replacement.
Leonard Fournette – The Jags didn’t miss their leading rusher last week as they amassed 481 yards of offense in a win over the Pats. They did, however, struggle to find a consistent ground game, instead relying on Bortles to manufacture offense through the air. And as we’ve seen in the past, that’s not always a recipe for success.
Matchup to Watch
Without starting tackles Lewan and Conklin, the Titans were able to configure a game plan to work around that. You know the Jags took notice and the Titans may not be so lucky this week. Hand it to Mike Vrabel for being creative with backup Gabbert starting in place of Mariota, who is dealing with an elbow injury. Gabbert threw only 20 passes and the Titans used a variety of formations with Henry taking direct snaps.
The Titans managed only 283 total yards, but they took advantage of a fake punt to score a touchdown and their defense was relentless in pressuring Deshaun Watson. It worked once, but the Jags will be ready for anything this week. The league’s best defense will attack from the edge with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, two of the top sack specialists in the NFL.
You can’t get much more efficient than the Jags were on third downs against New England last week. They methodically drove the field on their first two possessions to build an early lead, and their three first half touchdown drives included 16 first downs. Bortles was able to extend drives, keeping Tom Brady and the Pats offense on the sideline.
The Jags converted 71 percent of their third-down tries against the Pats and they are the third-most successful team at extending drives by converting almost 52 percent of their third-down chances this season.
Free ATS Pick
If Bortles plays the way he did last Sunday, the Jags are unbeatable. The good news for opponents is that he hasn’t shown the ability to do that on a consistent basis. And with a defense as good as the Jags’ he doesn’t have to. The Titans pulled out all the stops to beat Houston last week, and the injury issues on the offensive line will catch up with them this week.
Tennessee won’t be able to get away with the things they did against the Texans, and Jacksonville has a bone to pick with the Titans after losing both games last season and four of the last five. The Jags are focused and I can’t see them having a letdown following a big win over the Pats. A divisional matchup will keep them grounded and the Jags will pull out the home victory.
NFL Betting Odds: Jaguars 24, Titans 13
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