The most important number for the Tennessee Titans as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars is three.
That is the number of consecutive games the Titans will play against AFC South opponents, beginning with this one. That means there will be no surprises in terms of the personnel they face or the venues in which they play.
That is half of all the division games on the schedule and for a team that needs to put together a win streak, this arguably represents the best opportunity of the season.
“As you win one, the next one gets bigger and more exciting,” coach Mike Munchak said. “You win this one, and all of a sudden, look at the Houston game [Dec. 2 at LP Field]. Then it’s the next one, and you move on. It’s up to you, if you want to have that kind of season and that kind of finish, or do you want to have the other kind, which I don’t think any of us want.”
For Jacksonville, Sunday’s contest (noon, CBS) is the last of three in a row against division opponents. It dropped the first two, including a 43-37 overtime defeat Sunday against Houston.
“That’s the thing about this league, people get so caught up in records,” Munchak said. “There you have 1-8 [Jacksonville] versus 8-1 [Houston], and the 1-8 team should have won probably, had many chances to win that game. We understand what that’s all about, and it’s going to be a great game for us and a tough game for us to win in Jacksonville.”
Now at 1-3, Jacksonville is guaranteed its seventh consecutive season without a winning record in division play. The good news, of sorts, is that it has broke even (3-3) each of the last three seasons and still has a chance to make it four in a row.
Only once since the AFC South was created in 2002 have the Jaguars had a winning record in the division. That was 2005 when they went 4-2.
The Titans are winless in the division thus far with losses to Houston and Indianapolis. They, however, still have the opportunity to gain some ground in the standings and to keep pace in the AFC playoff chase.
In order to do so, they have to take care of business in this stretch.
A look at other notable numbers related to Sunday’s contest:
2 – overtime games played by the Titans this season. They are 1-1 with the loss against division rival Indianapolis on Oct. 28. The only other time they played beyond regulation against an AFC South opponent, they defeated Houston 26-20 on Dec. 10, 2006. None of their 35 all-time meetings with Jacksonville, including the playoffs, have gone to overtime.
3 – overtime games played by the Jaguars this season, including last Sunday’s 43-37 loss to Houston. The three overtime games already are a franchise record for a single-season. All three have been on the road and all three have ended in defeat, the first two (Minnesota and Oakland) by identical 26-23 scores.
8 – games Jacksonville has played, of 10, against teams at .500 or better. The Jaguars’ schedule is the NFL’s toughest to date with their opponents having gone a combined 62-38 (.620 winning percentage). That either explains why the Jaguars are 1-9, or the fact that they have accounted for roughly 15 percent of their opponents’ combined victories explains how that record is so good.
9 – current NFL head coaches who also played in the league, including Munchak and Jacksonville’s Mike Mularkey. Munchak’s 12-year career is tied for the second-longest among that group, Mularkey played nine seasons.
48.4 – yards per punt by Jaguars rookie Bryan Anger. At that pace, the third-round draft pick out of California will break the NFL rookie record of 46.7 set by in 2008 by current Titans punter Brett Kern, who was with Denver at the time. Twenty-three of his 59 punts (39 percent) have gone 50 yards or more.
283 – yards per game, the average for Jacksonville’s offense. That is worst in the league.
414.2 – yards per game, the average allowed by Jacksonville’s defense. That is worst in the AFC and second overall in the NFL.