If the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to win on Sunday at Tennessee, they must stop the Titans running game.
Without trying to sound like a cliché from a Rocky movie, for the Jacksonville Jaguars, there is no tomorrow. This is a team that is teetering on the playoff ledge, knowing full well last week was a prime chance to make a statement and move closer to the sixth and final playoff spot.
The Jaguars failed miserably.
After consecutive losses to the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville finds itself needing to win this weekend in Tennessee to keep the playoff hope alive, however slim. Facing a nemesis that has a powerful run game, along with the memory of Derrick Henry’s historic night in Nashville a year ago, can’t haunt this team.
Jacksonville must summon the strength to stop the run, something the team has not been able to do the past two games and has done a poor job of tackling its opponents.
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After a 238-yard performance that included four touchdowns, the Jaguars are well aware of the assignment they have been given. Stop Henry and you have a chance to win your second AFC South divisional game of the season.
The Titans are in a similar situation as the Jaguars, needing to win on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive. Head coach Doug Marrone said the team needs to have a better week than the one it experienced before the loss on the road.
"“We have to coach better, and we have to play better,” Marrone said Wednesday via Jaguars.com. “We understand that. We’re upset. It’s not good enough. It starts with me.”"
The Jaguars have been outscored 59-16 in their last two games – to division rivals that have virtually taken away any chance of Jacksonville reaching the postseason. A 6-4 record instead of where the Jaguars stand would have changed things dramatically. Now, 11th in the AFC in the standings and five teams ahead of them for playoff positioning and the uphill climb is almost too much to overcome. If the regular season ended today, both Houston and Indianapolis would be in the postseason.
Marrone still believes the team can work hard to overcome the struggles of the past two contests, mixed in between a bye week. Jacksonville has been run over by the Texans, who rushed for 216 yards in London and the Colts, who galloped to 264 yards on the ground, with two tailbacks eclipsing 100 yards on the afternoon.
"“We’re going to fight our way out,” he said. “Like I told the players: ‘Take all that [hacked] off, which everyone should be, and don’t make it combative, but we have to be competitive. We have to play well. We have to have a lot of energy and we have to practice well.’”"
While stopping the run will be a major focus this week, getting the run game will also become a focal point of a Jacksonville victory. Leonard Fournette was almost non-existent last week as offensive coordinator John DeFilippo used a pass-heavy approach to try and control the Colts defense.