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Titans vs Jaguars: Keys to victory

Hard-hitting and physical play will be in abundance as two AFC South goliaths clash at LP Field on Sunday. The Titans (6-2) will renew their heated rivalry with the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3) in a match-up between two teams with aspirations of making the postseason. The Titans defeated the Jaguars 13-10 during the opening weekend of the NFL season, so a victory over the Jags on Sunday would provide the Titans with a sweep of the season series and a potential tiebreaker over Jacksonville in the AFC playoff race.
If the Titans expect to emerge victorious in this weekend’s battle with the hated Jaguars, the following objectives should be accomplished:
Stop the Jags’ running game
The unquestioned strength of the Jaguars’ offense is their running game. The Jags are currently the owners of the league’s 5th best rushing attack, averaging 139 yards per game. Containing veteran Fred Taylor and stopping the diminutive, but highly effective Maurice Jones-Drew will be of utmost importance to Jim Schwartz and the Titans’ defense this week.
The presence of Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line would certainly be a boost for the Titans as they attempt to stop the Jaguars’ powerful running game. Big Al is battling a hamstring injury that he suffered in last week’s win over the Panthers and is currently listed as a game-time decision. 
If Haynesworth is unable to go, fourth year defensive tackle Randy Starks will probably get the start. Starks is a serviceable veteran but in no way, shape or form will he be able to replace the impact that the behemoth Haynesworth has had on the Titans’ 2nd ranked defense.
Avoid Rashean Mathis at all costs
Rashean Mathis continues to emerge as one of the league’s better cornerbacks. Mathis, known for his ball-hawking skills and penchant for making big plays, earned his 1st Pro bowl birth last season by intercepting 8 passes and returning them for 146 yards.
During his five year career, Mathis has consistently been a thorn in the sides of Titans’ quarterbacks. Six of his twenty-one career interceptions have come against Titan signal-callers. As he drops back to pass on Sunday, Vince Young will need to exercise extreme caution as he surveys Mathis’s side of the football field.
Make the Jags play from behind
The Jaguars are at their peak strength when they are able to dominate the time of possession battle through the means of running the football down the opposition’s throats. As the case with most run-oriented football teams, the key to defeating the Jaguars is to make them come from behind. Last week, New Orleans jumped out to a huge lead in their 41-24 defeat of the Jaguars. Taylor, Jones-Drew and the Jags’ vaunted running game was held to only 88 yards on the ground as a result of their offense having to play catch up by airing out the football.
Jumping out to an early lead and forcing the Jaguars to abandon their offense’s biggest strength would provide the Titans with an excellent chance of winning this pivotal AFC South showdown.