Titans eye first 2-0 start since 2008

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With a victory Sunday at Nissan Stadium, the Tennessee Titans can start 2-0 for the first time since 2008.

The Titans are an overwhelming favorite to do it despite facing a Jacksonville Jaguar team that stunned the NFL last week knocking off Phillip Rivers and Indianapolis.

The Jags were supposed to be “tanking for Trevor (Lawrence)” but, someone forgot to tell head coach Doug Marrone and the Jaguars who pulled out the victory behind 19 of 20 passing from Gardner Minshew.

Last week the Titans were an 11 point favorite to beat the Jags, but after Jacksonville’s upset and star receiver AJ Brown going down with a knee injury that number is still big, but down to only 7.5.

That’s a large swing in the betting world. I don’t think we ever try to do that.

Still, the Titans are a strong favorite to beat the Jags for the seventh straight time in Nashville.

“I think we always just try to focus on the challenge that’s ahead of us and understand this a good football team that’s young, it’s a fast team, the receivers are big, they all got involved last week. ” said head coach Mike Vrabel, “The quarterback’s accurate, he’s decisive, seems to rally that football team, and then obviously defensively they’ve got a lot of great young players that are transitioning in there, into their scheme, so it’s going to be a huge challenge.”

It is a year of transition for the Jaguars who have jettisoned standouts like Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, AJ Bouye, Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue. In their place the Jaguars have 16 rookies on the roster including new starting running back James Robinson, an undrafted free agent from FCS school Illinois State. He had 90 total yards in the Jags win over the Colts.

The story for the Jaguars has been quarterback Gardner Minshew though after that near perfect performance where he threw for 173 yards, 3 TD’s and had a rate over 142.3. Vrabel gushed about Minshew’s accuracy and especially about his leadership and engagement with his teammates.

The Titans have to find a way to get pressure on Minshew but contain him in the pocket, he was sacked 4 times last week so they can get there. For the Titans Jadeveon Clowney, Harold Landry and Kamalei Correa have to bring the head all day long and get more hits than they did a week ago in the Titans 16-14 win Denver.

The Titans also need a bounce back performance from kicker Stephen Gostkowski who missed 3 field goals and an extra point in is Titans debut.

Vrabel is a former teammate of Gostkowski and remains confident in a player some have pegged for the Hall of Fame after 15 years in New England, “Steve (Stephen Gostkowski)’s a pro. He’s missed kicks before. We anticipate that he’ll come back and he’ll be better, and he’ll be up to the expectations that he has for himself and that we have for him from the team. You practice, you come back, and you try to learn from those experiences, and I know that Steve (Stephen Gostkowski)’s done it for a long time and he’ll do that.”

Offensively, all eyes will be on Derrick Henry who has absolutely tormented the Jaguars in his career ripping off a memorable 99 yard run in prime time and averaging 7 yards per carry in his last 4 games with the Jaguars.

The Titans also have to overcome injury with AJ Brown out of the lineup. Last week in Denver quarterback Ryan Tannehill distributed the ball evenly throwing at least 7 passes to Brown, Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and tight end Jonnu Smith.

It looks to be like a high volume day again for Davis who was one of the stories of the NFL with his 7 catches for 101 yards in Denver.

“I have a ton of confidence in Corey (Davis).” Tannehill said Wednesday, “He’s a great player and extremely talented, and made some huge plays for us on Monday night, some tough, contested catches in traffic. We saw the big catch-and-runs, which we’ve seen from him over the past couple years, but I have a ton of confidence in Corey (Davis) and look for more good things going forward.”

Davis and Jaguars 1st round pick CJ Henderson will be one of the exciting matchups to watch in this one. Jags linebacker Myles Jack also has a critical matchup in pass coverage with Jonnu Smith.

Not playing again for the Titans is outside linebacker Vic Beasley who turned in his first full practice Friday but was still ruled “Out”.

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