Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Pick & Prediction JANUARY 7th 2024

Unofficially, the playoffs started last week for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Their 26-0 shutout of the Carolina Panthers gives the Jaguars a chance to officially make the postseason if they can beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Nashville.

A victory would give Jacksonville (9-7) the AFC South title and a home game in the first round of the playoffs. A loss wouldn’t automatically knock the Jaguars out of the postseason picture, but they would need help they would just as soon not require.

“There’s only one (scenario) that matters for us right now,” Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson said. “That’s all I need to tell the team. There’s nothing other than trying to win this game on Sunday. You gotta put in the time this week and you treat each game as if it’s a playoff game.”

It appeared the Jaguars wouldn’t need to worry about their postseason fate when they held an 8-3 record prior to Week 13. But four consecutive losses followed, putting the Indianapolis Colts (9-7) and Houston Texans (9-7) in play for the division title as well.

The Jaguars put things together last week against the NFL’s worst team. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard hit 17 of 24 attempts for 178 yards in place of Trevor Lawrence (shoulder), who missed the first start of his three-year NFL career.

Trends suggest Lawrence might not miss two in a row. He practiced on a limited basis three straight days, and history proves he will play while at less than 100 percent. On Friday, the Jaguars listed Lawrence as questionable and could wait until Sunday to make a definitive call.

And there is a chance that wide receiver Christian Kirk (core muscle), who went on injured reserve on Dec. 8, could be available this week after practicing on Wednesday for the first time in a month. Kirk also was listed questionable.

“Obviously, he’s doing everything he can to come back,” Lawrence said of Kirk. “He’s one of our best players and we need him back.”

Wideout Zay Jones (knee, hamstring) also is questionable for Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, Tennessee (5-11) is literally and figuratively limping to the end of a long season. The Titans fell 26-3 last week in Houston, their fourth loss in five games, and they had 15 names on their Wednesday injury report.

That list included rookie quarterback Will Levis, who is battling right foot and left ankle maladies that kept him out of practice Wednesday before he was limited the following two days. Levis was listed questionable on Friday and veteran Ryan Tannehill will make the start.

It’s likely to be the last appearance in Nashville for Tannehill, no matter what. With Levis having established himself as the franchise’s long-term solution under center, Tannehill is probably going to model another uniform in 2024 as his contract expires in March.

“I don’t fully sit and reflect on the last five years at this time,” the 35-year-old veteran said, referring to his career with the Titans. “The time will come and I’ll definitely do that. Right now, I think I’d be letting down my teammates by (putting) too much thought into that and not preparing myself to go play.”

Malik Willis will be the No. 2 quarterback for the Titans with Levis available to play if both Tannehill and Willis are injured.

It could also be the last game in Tennessee for 30-year-old running back Derrick Henry, who has rushed for 9,349 yards in eight seasons with the Titans. The two-time NFL rushing champion also has a contract that expires in March.

Tennessee ruled out cornerbacks Caleb Farley (back) and Anthony Kendall (knee), defensive end TK McLendon Jr. (shoulder) and receiver Colton Dowell (knee).

–Field Level Media

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