Titans focus on AFC South leaders Jacksonville after loss
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans have all the incentive necessary to forget a disappointing loss. Next up are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who sit atop the AFC South.
That’s the spot the Titans want.
And they stumbled out the gate in Week 1 after finishing a game behind the Houston Texans in the division last season. The Titans haven’t won the AFC South since 2008, – which happens to also be the last time they swept the Jaguars and reached the playoffs.
Add to the mix the Jaguars ended Tennessee’s hopes of winning the division in 2016 with a 38-17 rout of the Titans in the game Marcus Mariota broke his right leg .
”It’s crucial,” Titans linebacker Avery Williamson said. ”It’s a division game, so we’ve got to definitely make sure that we’re on top of this one because it’s a team that is in our division and what happened last year. It’s definitely a whole lot of extra emphasis on this week.”
Coach Mike Mularkey wants his Titans simply focusing on the Jaguars because they’re next after opening with a 26-16 loss to Oakland.
”I hope not …,” Mularkey said of last year’s loss providing extra motivation. ”I think our guys are locked in. Getting ready for a division game, and starting the season with a division game early on the road against a team that just went on the road and beat another good football team at their own place. They’ll be ready.”
The Titans do have a few things to fix. Defensively, they need to tackle better after a game where Marshawn Lynch ran through and over the Titans. Offensively, they were nearly perfect on third downs in the first half converting five of seven, then went two of seven in the second half.
But flooding in Jacksonville on Monday could affect whether the game is played in Florida or Nashville with the rivals flipping games or even delayed. The Titans are scheduled to wrap up the season Dec. 31 hosting the Jaguars, while the teams also share the same bye on Oct. 29.
Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications, said the league is not close to making a decision on the game scheduled in Jacksonville or Tampa Bay’s delayed home opener. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone says officials are assessing damage to EverBank Field and will then determine whether the game will be played as scheduled
”So far, all I’ve heard was there’s a chance of it being here and last game of the season will be there because there’s some flooding,” said safety Johnathan Cyprien, who played last season with Jacksonville.
Mularkey said he hadn’t heard anything from Jacksonville and was trying to find out about the home he still has in the area. One of his sons evacuated, and Mularkey’s home also was in an area evacuated because of Hurricane Irma.
”You really can’t worry about where you’re going to play,” Mularkey said. ”We’re going to go where we have to play, that’s really up to the NFL. I would anticipate us playing down there.”
If so, the Titans will have to find a hotel because Mularkey said they don’t have one for this weekend as of Monday.
Mularkey does believe his Titans will be ready for the Jaguars who made a statement of their own with a 29-7 win in Houston.
Notes: Mularkey says Cyprien will miss a few weeks with an injured hamstring . DB Tye Smith also broke a hand, but Mularkey says they are checking to see if he’ll be available this week.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York and AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Florida contributed this report.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL.
HURRICANE NEWSLETTER – Get the best of the AP’s all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb