Hopes were high for the Tennessee Titans. They were relishing the “underdog” role against the number one seed New England Patriots and were confident after getting an upset victory last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Titans players were quoted in the press saying “it’s our time”. They were confident in their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, insinuating that the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady might be past his prime and due for a fall from the NFL throne.
At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Titans had a good chance to beat the Patriots; the Titans were first to score late in the first quarter when Mariota threw a 15-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Corey Davis for a touchdown. It was Davis’ first NFL touchdown, a one-handed catch that got the Titans on the board and it felt like a breakthrough for the Titans first-round draft pick. Finally, during a playoff game, Davis made a big play. The glee didn’t last for long as the Patriots were able to score on their next possession and even the score.
The first half of the game belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs. They scored on a touchdown by Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who ran the ball in from the one-yard line. They scored another TD when tight end Travis Kelce caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith. Not a good start for the Tennessee Titans.
Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota was leading a good drive during the second quarter until he threw an interception to cornerback Marcus Peters; Titans head coach Mike Mularkey later stated that it was Titan wide receiver Corey Davis’ fault as Davis didn’t run his route correctly. The Titans have had this “miscommunication” and “execution” problem throughout this season. It has frustrated the coaches and the fans and has lead to much speculation about the security of the coaching positions in Tennessee.
Throughout the past two weeks, there has been a lot of rumblings in the press and on social media about head coach Mike Mularkey’s job security. The Tennessee Titans lost three games in a row. Most of the wins this year have been determined to be “ugly wins” and most of the games have been low scoring or “boring”.
When the press asked Mularkey if he felt that he was close to losing his job if he didn’t make the playoffs, he responded: “I haven’t had support to say I was (secure). I just assumed the worst”. The press conference video of this exchange was heartbreaking, Mularkey was quite emotional when questioned about his job security. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk has addressed the situation with this statement:
Division rivals Jacksonville Jaguars were not gonna make it easy for the Tennessee Titans. The Jags were already in the playoffs, but they still played their first line players and were going all out against the Titans at freezing Nissan Stadium in Nashville on the last day of 2017. The Titans have lost three games in a row and this was their last chance to survive and get into the playoffs. They succeeded and made it in. It was another “ugly” win for Tennessee. It was another low scoring, not the most exciting game. The end result is that the Titans are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 is beyond exciting.
Today’s playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs will be Mike Mularkey’s first playoff game as head coach. This AFC wildcard game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs (10-6) have three main weapons in the form of tight end Travis Kelce, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs also will have home field advantage and a veteran quarterback in Alex Smith, who will be well rested coming into this game. The Chiefs had rookie quarterback PatrickMahomes II in as their starter last week.
Coach Mularkey had this to say about playing at Arrowhead: “Tough place to play. Good football team. We played them there last year in another close game, so we’re not as familiar playing them this year.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars have locked in their spot in the playoffs, so there will be no change if they win or lose. However, head coach Doug Marrone has said they’ll play to win and will start the ones. Some may think this is foolish, but this tough guy mentality is exactly why they’re the #3 seed.
Tennessee, on the other hand, must win or have both the Chargers and Bills lose. Based on this, they will be going full bore. If the Jaguars do indeed show up to play, it might not be enough. It’s in Jacksonville’s best interest to lose because the Titans would travel to Jacksonville and they’d be the easiest of the three teams they could face.
Tennessee Titans quarterbackMarcus Mariota has been all over the place this season due to injuries. He beat Jacksonville week two because Jaguars QB Blake Bortles turned the ball over five times and the defense looked as if they just gave up. Up until he did that though, Jacksonville defense looked good. Plus, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus hadn’t been signed yet.
With Mariota far from being at the top of his game, Tennessee has one weapon and that’s their run game. While Jacksonville is 21st in stopping run yards, they’re tied for 8th in allowing rushing TDs at 9.
Tennessee, on the other hand, is tops at stopping the run and not allowing TDs. Running back Leonard Fournette will have his work cut out for him. Luckily for Jacksonville, the Titans are ranked 25th at stopping the pass, so if the run isn’t successful, the pass is there.
Bortles has 18 TDs and no interceptions in the red zone. Last season, Mariota was a leader in this category, but no more and that’s where Bortles can really hurt the Titans.
For the Titans, they’re facing the number one pass defense in the league whereas Mariota is ranked 21st, so this is not a good match-up for them. Combine that with Jacksonville leading the league with 52 sacks and Tennessee allowing 32, that’s another bad matchup.
Even though Jacksonville has had a series of injuries on their offensive line, Bortles is among the least sacked at 22. The Titans, however, are 5th in sacking the QB. Tackle Cam Robinson is listed as questionable. It will be tough to see Marrone starting him with the playoffs next week, so that’s where the Titans could attack.
The key for the Titans is to run the ball and keep Bortles from scrambling. He’s a bigger guy than people think and doesn’t go down easy. This has allowed him from being sacked often even with a hurt offensive line
The key for Jacksonville is to stop the run and get in Mariota’s face. He’s playing scared because of the injuries and will want to dump the ball quickly. This has lead to a season of interceptions.
While it would benefit the Jaguars to lose, I can only see this happening if Marrone plays the second string. Jacksonville is a better team on every level and will want to beat their division rival.
Being on the road has not been kind to the Tennessee Titans. When the team left Nashville two weeks ago, they were at the top of the AFC South. After a loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week and to the San Francisco 49ers this week, the Titans are now second behind the Jacksonville Jaguars who have two consecutive wins.
It stings, it hurts. What hurts even more, is that Arizona and San Francisco have been having rough seasons with tons of injuries. They were considered teams that should be “easy to beat”. The Titans are making these easy to beat teams look good, unfortunately.
What was supposed to be a beautiful beginning of a trip out west ended up an offensive nightmare. The Titans defense was playing full force. They had eight sacks this game and they kept the Cardinals from scoring touchdowns. However, the Tennessee offense was just plain awful. They are not working together. There is no mojo brewing, no fantastic plays, and certainly no smashmouth football going on. Blah!!
After being defeated 57-14 and humiliated by the Houston Texans in October, there was some talk about this game being a rematch or a revenge game. I would say it was not an even rematch.
The Texans had lost two of their brightest stars, rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson and defensive end JJ Watt to injuries. I would say it wasn’t even a revenge game. Just another divisional game that the Tennessee Titans had to win to keep hope alive to finally get into the playoffs. Something that the team hasn’t done since 2008. The Titans keep plodding along and getting unspectacular wins, but by gummies, they are getting wins.
Yep, it was another slow starting, low scoring game for the Tennessee Titans. In the first half, Tennessee was only scoring by field goals. Kicker Ryan Succop did all the scoring. First, with a 29-yard kick and then a 45-yard kick for the Titan’s only scores.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in the first half of the game. That created flashbacks to the horror that was last week’s Thursday Night Football game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. A 40-17 loss where Mariota had four interceptions. The second interception during this game happened when wide receiver Taywan Taylor fell down, and the ball went sailing into Indianapolis defender Nate Hariston’s arms.