5 Reasons the Tennessee Titans Will Beat the Jacksonville Jaguars
After what seems like the longest offseason in recent memory and a promising preseason, the Titans are about to start their 2011 season.
While the Titans are not exactly a Super Bowl favorite, there will still be some wins this season. In fact, the first could very well come against their first opponent—the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Titans will visit Jacksonville on September 11. Here are five reasons that the Titans will start the season 1-0.
1. Winning in the Trenches
Games are won and lost in the trenches. It's an old maxim, but a good one.
The Titans' interior line play was somewhat poorer than usual in 2010, but that looks to change. Despite returning all the same starting linemen, the Titans interior line opened up holes for Jamie Harper all day long in the preseason.
Now, with the two-headed rushing attack of Jamie Harper and Chris Johnson, the Titans will really be able to do some damage at the ground level.
The Jaguars offensive line, on the other hand, is pretty weak and will have a more difficult time opening up holes for Maurice Jones-Drew.
To make things better for the Titans, the Jaguars have a pretty weak front seven on defense. While there are great players like Tyson Alualu and recent acquisitions Paul Posluszny and Aaron Kampman, the Jaguars defensive front is improved, but nothing special.
The Titans defensive line isn't much better with Derrick Morgan injured, but the Jaguars offensive line isn't elite. Besides, ends Jason Jones and Dave Ball are still a force to be reckoned with.
The Titans have a decent defensive front and an elite offensive line, while the Jaguars defensive and offensive front are only pretty good.
The Titans win the battle of the trenches.
2. Quarterback Play
Luke McCown, recently named the Jaguars starting quarterback, played one game in 2010 and didn't throw a touchdown.
The difference between the two teams' starting quarterbacks isn't even close. Hasselbeck has proven that he can play at an elite level, even behind a porous offensive line. With the Titans elite line, he can stay in his comfort zone.
I can't say much about what McCown will do because there simply isn't much information available. In his six years in the league, he's thrown nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. That isn't a lot.
For comparison, Hasselbeck has thrown 176 career touchdowns, rushed for eight more and thrown 128 interceptions.
Titans win the position battle easily.
3. The Running Game
Ahmard Hall may be out for now, but the Titans will still have three solid running backs that could see playing time.
The Jaguars have one great running back, but he may have lingering knee issues.
Maurice Jones-Drew's knee seems to be back in working order, but after his problems in 2010 and throughout the offseason with it, I wouldn't trust him to be back to 100 percent just yet.
If Jones-Drew is healthy, he's probably the third or fourth best running back in the league. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the Titans have the best running back in the league.
Chris Johnson has rushed for more yards than Jones-Drew every year he has been in the league and has scored more touchdowns than Jones-Drew in every year but 2008 (when LenDale White led the league in touchdowns).
Furthermore, the Titans also have 235-pound rookie Jamie Harper on hand to pound the ball on short yards and touchdowns.
Despite what will likely be a heroic effort by Jones-Drew, the Jaguars will simply not be able to move the ball on the ground as effectively as the Titans.
4. Defensive Depth
The Titans defense has a bit of a weakness in that it doesn't have many huge playmakers. However, there is also a strength in that they are deep at every position and don't rely too heavily on any one player.
Having Derrick Morgan out for the first week certainly hurts the Titans, but not that badly. At the defensive end position, the Titans also have Dave Ball, who had seven sacks last season, and Jason Jones, who had 3.5 sacks last season playing at defensive tackle.
At defensive tackle, Tennessee will start Shaun Smith and Sen'Derrick Marks, but behind them will be rookies Jurrel Casey, Karl Klug and Zach Clayton, who all had impressive preseasons and will see playing time quickly.
At corner, the Titans have Cortland Finnegan entrenched as one starter with Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty (twin brother of Pro Bowler Devin) fighting for the second spot. Both will see plenty of action.
At linebacker, the Titans have Akeem Ayers, Barrett Ruud and Will Weatherspoon starting. Nipping at their heels are rookie Gerald McRath and promising rookie Colin McCarthy.
In short, the Titans are deep at every position and like to rotate starters. What that means for the Jaguars is that the Titans defense will be fresh the whole game, which is not good for Jacksonville's offense.
5. Offensive Playmakers
I already mentioned that the Titans win the position battle against the Jaguars at the offensive line, quarterback and running back positions. What I haven't mentioned is that the Titans also have a dynamic receiver in Kenny Britt, a promising tight end in Jared Cook and an electrifying special teams/do-it-all guy in Marc Mariani.
The Jaguars best receiver is Mike Thomas. While he's a good player, he is also not exactly the best No. 1 option.
Marcedes Lewis, the Jaguars tight end, is a great player, but Jared Cook may be almost as good as Lewis this season.
If you want to just compare the numbers, the Titans have five offensive players that can, and will, step up to make the difference when it counts (CJ2K, Hasselbeck, Britt, Mariani and Cook).
The Jaguars have only two right now (Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew) and Jones-Drew may not be 100 percent.
While the two teams have pretty even defenses, the Titans are better offensively at every position except tight end. When the going gets tough, the Titans have guys they can rely on—and that is all the difference between a win and a loss.