The Jacksonville Jaguars visit the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 14
Coverage by: Aaron Resnick
Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars offense vs. Tennessee Titans defense
- QB Blake Bortles vs. S Kevin Byard – After the best three-week stretch of his career, Bortles came back to earth in Week 16. One reason could be the difference of how he played when given a clean pocket. In Weeks 13-15, Bortles' passer rating of 137.2 when kept clean was the best in the league. Working from a clean pocket this past Sunday, Bortles had a passer rating of 74.3. He threw all three of his interceptions from a clean pocket. Byard comes into this game with an overall grade of 89.1, which is fourth among safeties, and he has an 88.1 coverage grade that is also top-10 at the position. Throwing in Byard's direction has been a boom-or-bust decision for opponents. While he has allowed six touchdowns in coverage, his six interceptions are tied for the most among safeties. This is exactly the kind of matchup that can swing an entire game.
- WR Jaydon Mickens vs. CB Brice McCain – Mickens' path to the NFL is a feel-good story, but he has been much more than that the past few weeks when called upon. Since Week 15, Mickens has averaged 1.78 yards per route run in the slot, which ranks 11th among qualifying wideout. He is also tied for first with two touchdowns in said span. Over that same two weeks, McCain was the Titans' primary slot corner and allowed 0.80 yards per coverage snap. Yet, opponents have had success when targeting him in coverage the past two games, as he has given up a 124.3 passer rating in his last two contests. With the Jaguars' receiving corps continuing to be impacted by injuries, it wouldn't be surprising if Mickens is targeted with some frequency in an appealing matchup.
- T Jermey Parnell vs. Edge Derrick Morgan – In terms of pass protection, Parnell has served as a reliable option for the Jaguars. Despite some struggles last Sunday, his pass-blocking efficiency of 95.1 for the season is 33rd among tackles, and he has yet to allow a sack on the year. Even after missing a few games due to injury, Morgan continued his recent hot stretch with seven total pressures this past Sunday. Since Week 12, Morgan's pass-rush productivity of 17.7 ranks second among edge rushers. He has 20 total pressures over his last 89 pass-rush snaps. In that time, all of Morgan's pass-rush snaps have come from the left side, which means he's going against Parnell all afternoon if that trend holds.
PFFELO Ranking: 17
Coverage by: Sam McGaw
Matchup: Tennessee Titans offense vs. Jacksonville Jaguars defense
- RB Derrick Henry vs. LB Telvin Smith – Henry is expected to receive a heavy workload with Titans running back DeMarco Murray dealing with a knee injury. Henry ranks seventh among running backs with a 63.4 elusive rating. He averages 3.34 rushing yards after contact per attempt, compared to Murray’s mark of 2.03. Henry has also been the more explosive runner, as 38.7 percent of his rushing yards were gained on eight runs of 15-plus yards. Smith’s run-defense grade of 92.9 is tied for first among linebackers.
- TE Delanie Walker vs. LB Myles Jack – Walker has been the go-to target for quarterback Marcus Mariota this season. He’s gained either a first down or a touchdown on 59.5 percent of his targets and rushing attempts, which is the highest rate on the team. His overall grade of 84.4 ranks fourth among tight ends. In addition, his average of 1.87 receiving yards per route run is fifth-highest for his position. While Jack ranks 12th among linebackers with a coverage grade of 82.5, tight ends have found success against him. When he’s covered a tight end, he’s allowed a team-high 21 catches on 28 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
- WR Eric Decker vs. CB Aaron Colvin – With Titans wide receivers Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis facing difficult matchups against cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye on the outside, Mariota might often look to target Decker out of the slot. Over the last three weeks, Decker has caught nine of 13 targets out of the slot of 118 yards. His 1.71 slot receiving yards per route run during that span ranks 13th among receivers. He also has a 100.4 wide receiver rating over the last three games, which ranks 16th. Colvin is allowing 0.78 receiving yards per snap in slot coverage. Quarterbacks throwing against him in slot coverage have averaged a passer rating of 89.8.