JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Sunshine State was a gloomy spot for both the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend, when they combined for a measly three field goals in lopsided losses.
Tennessee managed 209 yards in its 20-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fell to 0-5 on the road this season. The Jaguars finished with a season-low 221 yards in a 34-3 drubbing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers at EverBank Stadium, dropping Jacksonville's home record this year to 1-3.
Both the Titans (3-6) and the Jaguars (6-3) will be looking for more offensive production — and a much better result — when the AFC South Division rivals meet Sunday in Jacksonville.
"It stings a little bit, but all you can do is just use it as motivation," Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk said. "We have enough veterans in this locker room to know this league isn't easy. It should hurt; you should be embarrassed. You just use it as motivation to move on and get one week better."
Jacksonville failed to score a touchdown at home for the second time this season, committing four turnovers and giving up way too many big plays against a 49ers team coming off its open date and desperate to end a three-game skid. Still, the Jaguars expect it to be just a down week and not a downturn as they chase their second division title in as many years.
"Don't lose confidence," Kirk said. "We're still a good football team. We're still a team that won five games in a row, and nobody should forget about that because that's not easy."
Said fellow receiver Calvin Ridley: "Everyone's going crazy. We've lost three games. That's it. You know what I'm saying? We're going to be all right."
The Titans are trying to avoid their first three-game skid in the series since the 2005-06 seasons. More importantly, they're hoping to stay within striking distance of the division lead.
Tennessee has five AFC South games remaining, providing coaches and players with a clear path to the playoffs. It starts in Jacksonville — and back in Florida seven days after the debacle against the Bucs.
"It's a big one," rookie quarterback Will Levis said. "As far as we see it, it's still wide open."
Maybe so, but the Titans need to play better than they have on the road this season. They haven't topped 16 points away from home, and turnovers and sacks have been the main culprits.
"There will be mistakes, but we just can't have the repeated, critical ones," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "So whether physically or mentally, it all goes into your performance. You have to have an idea of what the play is, what your job is, what your responsibility is, who you need to communicate with, what those details are, and then physically go execute."
Sunday will close a three-game road swing for Tennessee, which has gone a full year without winning away from Nashville, including last month's loss in London in which the Titans were designated the hosts against the Baltimore Ravens. Their most recent win outside of Music City was on Nov. 17, 2022, against the Green Bay Packers.
The Titans rank next to last in the NFL this season when it comes scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and settling for too many field goals on the road has been a big part of that problem. They've scored exactly two touchdowns in five road games.
"When you have a defense like we have, we're in every game," right guard Daniel Brunskill said. "And so we've got to do something on offense to help those guys out and (put) us in a better situation."
Instability at some positions has been a factor for the Titans, with multiple players listed on the injury report this week, and the Jaguars haven't been immune to that challenge either.
With veteran returner Jamal Agnew sidelined against the Titans and probably longer because of a shoulder injury, the Jaguars will turn to fifth-round draft pick Parker Washington to fill the role.
The rookie from Penn State sustained a knee injury on his first and only special teams play of the season. He was on injured reserve the past six weeks, but he will be activated in time to play Sunday.
"This is an exciting opportunity," he said. "To be able to help our team win on Sunday, shoot, I'm ready to attack. Let's get it. That's the mindset. Next man up. Got to be ready. I was just down, and now I've got to step up no matter if I had practice time or not."