The battle for the wooden spoon in the NFC South cools to a new nadir in the national spotlight early tomorrow morning. Romilly Evans asks which side leave with the reddest face?
"Suffering the ignominy of the NFL lowest-scoring offense at 15 points per game, the Jags are hugely dependent on their young, tough S remaining on a roll"
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Start-time: Friday, 01:30
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1
Primetime just went Subprime with the scheduling of this game between two of the NFL's poorest outfits. But hey, contractual obligation means that the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars get their moment in the national spotlight in a bid to establish the lamest duck in the AFC South.
At least this will be a game where both sets of fans, accustomed to getting up out of their seats and filing down the gangways at the first opposition touchdown, should stay the couse. But which will earn the divisional bragging rights?
The Titans have some huge issues at quarterback. First-round draft pick Jake Locker's left shoulder is now on ice for the remainder of the season and this great white hope has become a great white elephant. His rookie back-up, Zach Mettenberger, is also resting up on the treatment tale which leaves veteran Charlie Whitehurst to take the reins tonight. He must minimize the mistakes and arrest the team's worst slide since 2004. Tennessee have now lost eight successive matches - and 11 of their past 12 - so desperately need Whitehurst to keep it clean and simple.
Jacksonville have their own issues at QB with new boy Blake Bortles leading the league in picks. He was also sacked eight times against Baltimore last time out so will enjoy some respite from the Titans' friendlier front-four. The Jaguars did well to stay inside the handicap against the Ravens, but some great special-teams plays (a fake punt and an on-side kick) were largely the reason they remained within striking distance in an otherwise forgettable performance.
Indeed, suffering the ignominy of the NFL's lowest-scoring offense at 15 points per game, the Jags are hugely dependent on their young, tough S remaining on a roll. Their defensive front is tough and will bring a physical pass rush against Whitehurst.
That said, wherever else you look on the park, the Titans have a deeper roster and one that's longer on talent. At this stage in the season, they appear to have more options and collective cohesion, even away from home. Their main stumbling blocks have been turnovers (which can turn on a dime) and a disappointing red-zone conversion rate (often more unlucky than unruly).
Whitehurst kept them in with a shout against the New York Jets and if his boys can even get him a little protection, this team's viable running lanes and the resourcefulness of tight end Delanie Walker make them the stand-out bet across a few lines.
Back Tennessee Titans (+3.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 2.01/1 or better
Back Tennessee Titans (+1.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 2.56/4 or better
Back Tennessee Titans to score Over 18.5 Points @ 1.9110/11 or better