Titans 5 Critical Questions

Posted at 8:20 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 11:09:06-05

By Special Contributor John Glennon

When the Titans take the field in Jacksonville on Saturday (noon on NewsChannel 5), they'll be looking to post a fourth straight victory for the first time since the 2009 season.

They'll also be seeking to move another step closer to the postseason, since victories in their last two games will mean an AFC South title.

Here are five critical questions leading up to the game against the Jaguars:

Will the Titans' offense have another field day? – In the teams' first meeting this season – a 36-22 win for Tennessee -- the Titans piled up a season-high 494 yards and scored on six straight possessions. Marcus Mariota threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, while DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry combined for 183 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Titans led 27-0 at halftime. Heading into this game, Jacksonville has the fifth-ranked passing defense and the 21st-ranked rushing defense. So don't be surprised to see the Titans employ the same kind of ground-and-pound gameplan we've seen the last two weeks. The Titans have gone over 145 rushing yards in four of their past five games.

Could the Jaguars play spoiler? – The Titans will be favored to complete a season sweep of the Jaguars when the teams meet this Sunday. After all, Tennessee is marching toward a potential playoff berth while the Jags – playing their first game under interim coach Doug Marrone – have lost nine straight contests. But there are reasons to believe this will be a tough challenge: First, the Titans haven't swept Jacksonville since 2008, the last year they made the playoffs. Second, there have been recent examples of bad Jaguars teams upsetting the Titans. In 2013, for instance, an 0-8 Jacksonville team earned its first victory by beating a 4-4 Tennessee team. In 2012, a 1-9 Jacksonville team (coached by Mike Mularkey) snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating a 4-6 Titans team.

Is Delanie Walker licking his lips? – The Titans' Pro Bowl tight end has had some of his best games over the last two seasons against Jacksonville. In those three contests alone, Walker has compiled 20 catches for 276 yards (13.8-yard average) and a touchdown. If Walker manages a touchdown catch against Jacksonville, it will be his seventh of the year, which would be a career best. More importantly, Walker would love to take another step toward returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 Super Bowl.

Can LeShaun Sims do it again? – In the aftermath of the Titans' decision to cut Perrish Cox, the rookie cornerback has turned in back-to-back superb performances, earning Pro Football Focus' top defensive grade for Tennessee in games against both Denver and Kansas City. Sims has been targeted 10 times during those two contests, but has only allowed three catches for eight yards, per PFF. He also totaled four passes defensed and an interception. On Sunday, Sims will face a Jaguars team featuring wide receivers Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns.

Will cornerback Jalen Ramsey sting his hometown team? – In his first career game against the Titans earlier this season, Ramsey – a Smyrna native and Brentwood Academy graduate --- produced a career-best eight tackles. He'll enter this game coming off another strong performance in last week's loss to Houston, as Ramsey totaled five passes defensed, four tackles, an interception and forced fumble. Ramsey will have an extra dash of motivation on Sunday, knowing many family and friends will be watching, and that the Titans considered selecting him when they still held the first overall pick of the draft.