JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Tennessee Titans may have one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL in Chris Johnson and one of the league’s ascending, young quarterbacks in Jake Locker, but this team is built on defense.
The Titans rank 12th in the NFL in total defense and are giving up just 20.9 points per game. They’ve already scored three touchdowns on defense, have recorded 22 sacks, and opponents have managed just seven passing touchdowns in eight games.
On Sunday they’ll get a Jaguars offense that is managing only 66 yards per game rushing, just lost its best playmaker in receiver Justin Blackmon, and has scored touchdowns on only five of 20 trips in the red zone.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. EST and the game will be televised on CBS.
Here’s a look at the Titans:
Last week: Beat St. Louis 28-21.
Coach: Mike Munchak, third season (19-21).
Offensive coordinator: Dowell Loggains.
Defensive coordinator: Jerry Gray.
Series record: Titans lead 20-16.
THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON OFFENSE
QB Jake Locker: Maybe it’s because he plays in the same division as Andrew Luck and a Houston Texans team that is imploding, but nobody seems to notice how well Locker has played this season. He’s the AFC’s fifth-highest rated passer and is completing 61.4 percent of his passes. He isn’t putting up monster numbers (eight TD passes) but he isn’t making many mistakes, either (three INTs).
RB Chris Johnson: Johnson has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in five consecutive seasons and is on pace for No. 6 (516 yards through eight games). He is coming off his best game of the season (150 yards vs. St. Louis) and has to be eager to get a crack at a Jaguars defense that is allowing 161.8 yards per game on the ground.
WR Nate Washington: He failed to catch a pass last Sunday against St. Louis, which snapped his streak of 85 consecutive games with at least one reception. He has 26 catches for 439 yards and is averaging a team-high 16.9 yards per catch.
THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON DEFENSE
S Bernard Pollard: He leads the Titans with 75 tackles in his first season with the team after spending the past two with Baltimore. He is coming off a 14-tackle performance in the Titans’ victory over St. Louis last Sunday.
CB Alterraun Verner: The fourth-year player from UCLA leads the Titans with four interceptions and a team-high 14 pass breakups. He picked off two passes and recovered a fumble against the NY Jets, making him just the third Titans player since 1999 to record three turnovers in a game.
DT Jurrell Casey: The 6-foot-1, 305-pound Casey is giving the Titans a good pass rush up the middle. He leads the Titans with 6.0 sacks and is tied for the team lead with six QB pressures. He has a pair of two-sack games this season (Pittsburgh and St. Louis) and has recorded at least one sack in his last two games.
Tennessee’s schedule has been rated the seventh-toughest in the NFL. Opponents have combined for a .574 winning percentage. … The Titans’ pass defense ranks seventh in the NFL (217.8 yards per game) and their third-down defense ranks fifth (34.0 percent). … Johnson has six touchdown runs of 80 or more yards, the only player in NFL history with more than three. … Kicker Rob Bironas ranks second in NFL history in field goal percentage of kicks of 50 or more yards. He’s at 71.0 percent, behind only Jeff Wilkins (72.2 percent).