NASHVILLE, TN — After a tough three-game stretch vs. Baltimore, Indianapolis and Cleveland, the final four games for the Titans look much easier, despite the fact three are on the road. They begin the last portion of the 2020 season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a club that can’t wait until the end of the year and is in major rebuild mode. They’ve already canned their general manager, and if their head coach survives it will be one of the year’s major miracles. They’re still playing hard, as witness their three-point loss in overtime to the Vikings in Minnesota this past Sunday.
But at 1-11, they’re certainly not playing well. The Jets at 0-12 are even worse, but that’s little consolation for a Jaguars team that wasn’t expected to be playoff contender, but also wasn’t projected as a division or league doormat. However they have been awful in every phase of the game, and realistically the Titans should not have any trouble with them assuming that (1) the game gets played and (2) the Titans don’t look past them or just figure if they show up it’s an automatic victory.
No one who witnessed the travesty against the Bengals a few weeks ago would just immediately mark this game as a win. Some disturbing trends reappeared against Cleveland, the most troubling being once again an inability to prevent third down conversions. The Browns successfully converted seven of eight third down first half situations, something directly linked to their scoring on all six possessions and amassing a 38-7 halftime lead.
That the Titans responded with a 28-3 second half edge makes no one feel better about the loss that dropped them back into a first place tie in the AFC South with Indianapolis at 8-4. The saving grace is the Titans have the better division record, and if they can win out against Jacksonville and Houston would hold the tie-breaker with the Colts should the teams finish the season tied. Still, the defensive shortcomings that have haunted the team all season long remain unresolved.
It’s not encouraging that there’s no timetable for the return of Adoree Jackson. Opposing teams have targeted both the slot and the cornerbacks playing on the opposite side from Malcolm Butler, staying away from him. The lack of speed was particular evident on a 75-yard bomb where corner Brion Borders got badly fooled on a double move.
Still the Titans are 8-4, in first place, and really have only game left against a team with a winning record (Green Bay). They would love to win out, but three of four and an 11-5 mark would be a major improvement and decisively break the run of 9-7 records.