The Jacksonville Jaguars' abysmal 2012 season comes to a close Sunday when they travel to Tennessee to play the Titans. The Jaguars, sitting at 2-13, are guaranteed to finish the season with the worst record in franchise history and can pick no lower than second in April's draft. The Jaguars can still end the season on a high note with a win, as a victory over the Titans will give the Jaguars a .500 record in the AFC South.
The Jaguars should have confidence heading into the game as they defeated the Titans 24-19 in Week 12.
Here are some keys for the Jaguars to sweep the Titans and end the season on a winning note.
Chris Johnson has had an up-and-down season. He has had five games in which he's rushed for at least 122 yards, including a 195-yard explosion against the Bills in Week 7. However, he has also had five games when he's rushed for 28 or fewer yards, including last week's loss 55-7 thumping by the Packers.
The Jaguars have to keep Johnson from having one of his big games if they hope to win. Johnson averages 111.6-yards-per-game and 5.9-yards-per-rush in the Titans wins. All but one of his touchdowns have come in Titans victories.
Johnson's numbers drop off dramatically when the Titans lose. He averages 62.9-yards-per-game in losses, which is an almost 50-yard drop-off from wins. His per-carry average drops to 3.9 in losses. Each of the back's five fumble have come in losing efforts.
Johnson's contributions are minimal in Titans' losses and the Jaguars have to make sure they slow him down Sunday. The Jaguars did just that in their Week 12 win over the Titans when Johnson rushed for only 80 yards on 21 carries.
He has had runs of 94, 83 and 80 yards, but he has had stretches which it has taken him 30-plus carries to equal the yardage of one of those runs. The Jaguars can end Johnson's season on such a slump and help guarantee a win Sunday.
Mike Harris intercepts Jake Locker's pass in Jacksonville's 24-19 Week 12 win over the Titans.
Second-year quarterback Jake Locker has proven himself to be a solid game manager in Titans wins. Locker has averaged throwing for 216.3 yards with a 60 percent completion percentage in Tennessee's victories. He has also posted a very good 99.6 quarterback rating in his three wins.
The Jaguars cannot allow Locker to get comfortable and must force him into making mistakes. His quarterback rating drops more than 30 points to 63.9 in Titans losses. Locker has thrown all 11 of his interceptions in the seven games he's lost and completed just 54.7 percent of his passes in those games.
The Jaguars were able to force the necessary mistakes in the two teams' first meeting this season. The Jaguars defense intercepted two of Locker's passes late in the fourth quarter to prevent any chance of a Titans' comeback.
The Jaguars must do the same again Sunday.
Head coach Mike Mularkey and his staff have been unable to make the correct adjustments at halftime, and it is most evident during the third-quarter. The Jaguars have been outscored 76-43 in the third-quarter, and 29-0 in the quarter during their last four games. The Jaguars have been shut out in the third-quarter eight times in 2012.
Winning the third quarter would go a long way in helping the Jaguars win against the Titans and it is very possible for the Jaguars to do so. The Titans have also been terrible in the third quarter, and have been outscored 120-55 in the quarter. Tennessee has given up at least 10 points in the third quarter five times.
The Jaguars must overcome their third-quarter woes and take advantage of the Titans' struggles. The Jaguars are 2-1 when outscoring their opponents in the third quarter, including outscoring the Titans 7-3 in the quarter during their first meeting.
If the Jaguars can once again win the third quarter, they have a good chance of winning the game.
The Jaguars should be able to establish a strong running attack against the Titans.
Owens could potentially have the best game of his career against the Titans. Owens has averaged five yards per carry since entering the Week 13 game against Buffalo and the Titans' defense is porous against the run.
Tennessee's rush defense ranks 23rd in the NFL and allows 127.5-yards-per-game on the ground. The Jaguars duo of Owens and Richard Murphy must take advantage of the Titans' poor rush defense.
A successful run game also keeps the ball out of the inconsistent hands of quarterback Chad Henne. Henne has thrown six interceptions during the last four games, half of them last week against the Patriots. The Jaguars can't allow Henne's inconsistency to cost them the game and the only sure way to prevent turnovers through the air that is to run the ball.