The Jacksonville Jaguars ride into Tennessee for Thursday Night Football after a low-scoring snooze fest against the Colts. The Jaguars’ defense was in lockdown mode, as they held a hot Colts team to no points on the day. It was a win for the Jags with Bortles on the bench watching the game. Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler, who paced the Jags to a victory. He didn’t have to do much, obviously with the defense playing like that.
What Kessler did do is avoid a timely mistake to give the ball to the Colts. If he can be a game manager, the Jaguars should be alright. Alright enough to stage some impossible comeback and make the playoffs? No. The Jaguars were a game away from being eliminated from the playoffs against the Colts. They are hanging onto a small rope right now without any room for error.
It isn’t going to be easy for Kessler on the road in Tennessee. The Colts don’t have the best of defenses and Kessler managed to direct the Jaguars to just 6 points. They were unable to provide a comfortable cushion for the defense and were actually outgained by 54 yards in that contest. Kessler was held to 150 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. The key there was no interceptions. On the other hand, Andrew Luck had an interception so that was the difference last week.
The Jaguars didn’t have their running game going, with their leading rusher going for 36 yards. That will likely change with the return of Leonard Fournette from his suspension. Kessler must be thanking the football gods for having Fournette in the backfield to play the Titans. Unlike last week, I believe that Kessler is going to have to make some plays, though. They can’t depend on another shutout from the defense, especially on the road in a hostile environment at night. The Jags are still a 4-8 team despite the win over the Colts. The Titans are coming off a 26-22 win over the Jets at home. At 6-6, this game and the rest are going to be critical. Head below for our free Colts vs. Titans pick.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans NFL Week 14 Betting Odds:
vs. Titans -4(-110)
Jaguars vs. Titans Pick:
We’ll see what Kessler is made of on Thursday night. He more than likely isn’t a long-term solution for the Jags quarterback. This is just a plug for the time being until they look to the draft or free agency. The class of quarterbacks from college going to be eligible for the draft in 2019 isn’t the most attractive. There are some players there who might develop into starting quarterbacks, but I think the vast majority are going to have to be eased into a starting job.
Don’t expect your team to draft a QB in the upcoming draft and have them starting Week 1. Justin Herbert looks raw, and I’ve watched a lot of Oregon football the last two seasons. The moral of the story is that if Jacksonville wants an immediate fix, they’re going to have to look for a free agent or initiate a trade.
The Jaguars’ win last week was Kessler’s first of his career. He sat on the bench in Cleveland last year after getting some spot appearances as a rookie. Kessler has thrown 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions for an 86.8 QB rating in his three-year career. He’s only played in 14 games in three seasons, so being a starting quarterback is new to him.
The Titans will bring a stout defense to the party on Thursday. They’re 9th overall with 340.9 yards allowed per game and have been best at defending the pass. Tennessee have allowed just 221.2 yards per game through the air. This likely isn’t going to be an easy evening for Kessler on the road. Despite winning last week, his team have averaged only 16.8 points in their last six games.
At home the Titans have been even better with only 18.6 points allowed per game. Fournette back will help, but he’s going to need help from Kessler. I just don’t know if he’s going to be able to come up with the clutch conversions on 3rd down against the Titans in Tennessee. For the Jaguars, their defense has gotten exploited on the road, with 27.6 points allowed per game.
They held the Giants to 15 points in Week 1, which was really their only impressive defensive performance away from home. People will be impressed by what the Jags did last week, but a 6-0 win over the Colts in a letdown spot on the road isn’t much to gloat about with 4 wins on the board in Week 14. The Titans should be good for a touchdown or 10-point win in the Week 14 edition of Thursday Night Football.