Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville at Tennessee 12-05-2010

December 4, 2010

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

Sunday December 5th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Tennessee -3

Overview:

Very few people probably saw the Jacksonville Jaguars on top of the AFC South this far into the season. As it stands, they are 6-5 and hold the tie breaker over the Indianapolis Colts. The Jags have won three of their last four and will look to put together a victory to give them some breathing room from the tight knit division.

The 5-6  Tennessee Titans trail only one game out of first place. They dominated the Jaguars 30-3 in their last outing, but can they knock off the new and improved Jaguars? The Titans have had their fair share of struggles recently, dropping four straight games. Will they be able to turn it around against their division rival.

Keys to the Game:

  • Seven carries for five yards against a less than impressive Houston defense marks the worst performance of Chris Johnson’s career. He will look to bounce back against Jacksonville, a team he gained 111 yards against in their last meeting. The Jaguars are not exactly stout on defense, so Johnson has the potential to break for a big game. With Kerry Collings under center, Johnson should easily have an improved day, though it couldn’t really get any worse.
  • On the other side, Maurice Jones-Drew is having one of the best stretches of his career. He has racked up 100 yards in each of his last four games, one of those games was against the New York Giants. The Titans allow just over 111 yards a game, so you can expect Jones-Drew to have a big day. He can catch out of the backfield and pound the ball tirelessly. Expect him to post his fifth consecutive 100 yard performance.
  • With only four catches in three games, Randy Moss has officially fizzled in Tennessee. It is unclear why no quarterback has looked to Moss consistently, but Moss isn’t even succeeding as a decoy at this point. Kenny Britt is still the guy in Tennessee and with a Titans team that is bound to go through a lot of change this off season, Moss is unlikely to return to the Titans next season, barring a miracle. There is nobody on the Jaguars who can cover Moss, but it is unlikely Collins will be able to utilize him.
  • Mike Thomas has three touchdowns in his last four games. With teams stacking up the box, Thomas has been able to haul in a number of easy catches. David Gerrard is having a phenomenal year thanks to the fronts Maurice Jones-Drew forces defenses into. Thomas will be matched up against Cortland Finnegan, who was literally punched in the mouth last week for his dirty tactics. Finnegan does a fair job at covering receivers, but Thomas will still see the ball come his way, especially early on.
  • Jason Babin isn’t going to be the defensive player of the year, but with nine sacks this season, he should be in the discussion. Babin has absolutely dominated this season. The Titans do a great job at applying pressure, but Babin is in a class of his own. He has been held without a sack only twice this season. If the Jaguars are going to succeed, they need to make sure they hit the Titans on underneath routes that don’t take a long time to develop.

Key Matchup:

Jack Del Rio Vs. Jeff Fisher

  • Del Rio is in a position to take hold of the AFC South. Making sure he stresses the importance of this game and refusing to allow his team to focus on their last outing against the Titans will be critical. With all of the talk about moving the franchise to LA and how they overachieved their way into relevancy, Del Rio’s biggest challenge will be keeping his team’s concentration on the task at hand.
  • Jeff Fisher could be on his way out of Tennessee. The Titans are out of sorts and if the Titans have to choose between Fisher, who is the longest tenured head coach in the league, and Vince Young, it is unclear which direction they will go. Fisher might be at odds with some in the locker room and continuing to lose could put him on the hot seat.

Wrap Up:

The Jaguars and Titans both are in dire need of a victory, but given the state of the Titans, it is difficult to see them coming away with a victory. The Jaguars are at the peak of their season and the Titans are out of rhythm. This is going to be interesting to watch, as it has a huge affect on how the division shakes up.

A Jaguars loss might allow the Colts to gain some separation, while a Jaguars win will turn up the heat. With such dominant teams in the AFC, it appears only one team will be going to the playoffs from this division. It would be odd to see Peyton Manning sitting at home come playoff time. Jags win outright.

Free NFL Pick: Jacksonville +3


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