My guard is still up. Blake Bortles has fooled me one too many times.
It’d be easy as a Jacksonville Jaguar fan to buy into the hype of last week’s 31-20 whooping of the New England Patriots, but I’m holding out. I’m resisting for at least another week. At the very least, I need to see them not get embarrassed by the Titans again.
The Jaguars have never made the Super Bowl, but they’ve been on the doorstep three times. The first happened in 1996, then again in 1999. Last year’s team made it three, pulling a big upset in Pittsburgh in the playoffs before blowing a fourth-quarter lead to the Patriots with the Super Bowl on the line.
I bring this up because in two of those years, 1999 and 2017, the Jaguars had the Titans as division foes. And in those seasons, Jacksonville is a combined 0-5 against Tennessee.
If history repeats itself, maybe I should be rooting for the Titans this week. That’s never going to happen though.
I’m often asked why I aligned myself with the Jaguars instead of the hometown Titans. I think my explanation is sufficient.
When I was growing up, one of my favorite players was James “Little Man” Stewart at Tennessee. He was part of the Jaguars’ first draft class in 1995, four years before the Titans arrived in Nashville.
In those four years before the Houston Oilers became the Titans, the Jaguars began starting left-hander Mark Brunell at quarterback. Ten-year-old me, a lefty who was starring as a backyard QB at West Elementary, loved that.
So I didn’t switch allegiances when the Titans made their debut. I still haven’t despite the Jaguars suffering through years of bad drafts, bad leadership and bad quarterbacks.
This is one of the few times the roster is something worthy of boasting.
On paper, this is a pretty big mismatch – even if the Titans are close to full health by kickoff.
The Jaguars defense is one of the best in the NFL, while Tennessee’s offense is – at best – unproven. Putting a banged-up Marcus Mariota behind a line trying to reincorporate two tackles from injury should be a disaster against one of the fiercest pass rushes in the NFL.
On the flip side, Bortles is coming off the best game of his career – 377 yards, 4 TDs – against the Patriots.
Jacksonville’s offense may be without Leonard Fournette for the second straight week, but the team is 4-0 in games he hasn’t played in the last two years.
The Jaguars have also won their last seven home games. Jacksonville was 7-2 at home last year, though one of those losses was a 37-16 thumping the Titans laid on them in Week 2.
None of this probably will matter Sunday. I’ve already scheduled a post on Facebook about how I hate the Titans and timed it for 3:15 p.m.
The Titans love ruining my day, so I’m already expecting it.