The AFC South title and a trip to the playoffs is at stake this weekend when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans. Josh Dobbs will start for the Titans at quarterback in Week 18, and the third-stringer replaces injured starter Ryan Tannehill and ineffective rookie backup Malik Willis.
The Jaguars are -6.5 favorites at home against Dobbs and the Titans on Saturday. It’s a revenge game for the Titans who lost their first meeting of the season in early December. In Week 14, the Jaguars defeated the Titans 36-22 for their first win in Nashville in almost a decade. Trevor Lawrence from the Jaguars had a career-game with 368 yards, three passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown in the victory.
The Titans started the season 7-3, but lost their last six games. Their offense sputtered during their slide and they averaged only 14.8 points per game.
Jaguars 75%, Titans 25%
The Jaguars are on an upswing by winning four games in a row and six out of their last eight games. The Jaguars improved to 8-8 and have two possible routes to the postseason. If they defeat or tie the Titans, they will gain an automatic bid to the postseason as the AFC South champion.
If the Jaguars lose to the Titans, there’s a scenario that they can sneak into backdoor with an AFC Wild Card berth. However, the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New England Patriots all have to lose in Week 18 as well for the Jaguars to secure the final Wild Card spot.
The Titans (7-9) started this season 7-3, but lost six games in a row. Yet, they still have a chance to win the division with a victory over the Jaguars.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Jaguars have a 79% chance to qualify for the postseason, and a 75% chance to win the AFC South. The Titans have a 25% chance to win the division and secure a playoff berth.
The winner of the AFC South will also host a playoff game in the Wild Card round even if they have an overall losing record.
The Jaguars are -285 odds to win the AFC South, according to DraftKings. The Titans are +235 odds to win the division.
Vrabel Gambles on Dobbs vs Jags
Titans starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered an ankle injury in a loss against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15. Tannehill finished the game, but the Chargers narrowly defeated the Titans 17-14. The Titans sent him to the IR for season-ending ankle surgery. With the season going off the rails, head coach Mike Vrabel had limited options at quarterback: start a rookie without experience, or roll the dice with an inexperienced career backup.
In Week 16, Vrabel tapped the rookie and Malik Willis struggled against the one-win Houston Texans.
In Week 17, Vrabel decided to start third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs over rookie Malik Willis. Dobbs has been in the league a few seasons and got his start with the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the Titans desperate for a win, Vrabel inserted Dobbs into the lineup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Titans lost a sixth game in a row, but Dobbs looked much better in the passing game than Willis. Dobbs completed 20 passes for 232 yards and on touchdown.
With the Titans in a must-win situation against the Jaguars, Vrabel will stick with Dobbs for a second start in a row.
He is ready for the opportunity and is looking forward to it,” said Vrabel. “That’s where we’re at. That’s the only thing that matters, is winning one game, getting healthy, getting recovered and then winning one game, and finding out who is going to do that.”
Willis struggled in his pro debut against the one-win Houston Texans in Week 16. He completed 14-for-23 passes for 99 yards and zero touchdowns. He threw two interceptions and got sacked four times. The Texans snapped a nine-game losing streak and won only their second game of the season with a 19-14 victory.
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