What to watch for in Titans-Jaguars on 'TNF'

Marcus Mariota's Tennessee Titans travel to Jacksonville to face Blake Bortles' Jaguars for the opportunity to make some noise in the wide open AFC South.

Here's what we'll be watching for on Thursday night:

  1. This matchup hasn't held much attraction over the past few years, but the exciting young quarterbacks have our attention. Mariota has been more far more polished than expected, boasting a 68 percent completion rate, 10:0 TD-to-INT ratio, 9.2 yards per attempt and a 133.8 passer rating versus weak competition on the road this season. Although Bortles continues to make critical errors under pressure, he has become one of the most fun quarterbacks to watch, with the size and speed to escape pressure and make every throw on the field. At the helm of the best Jaguars offense since 2007, Bortles is on pace for 34 touchdowns and 4,233 yards this season.

If the quarterback matchup is a draw, the difference in the supporting casts is rather stark.

  1. The Steelers' wide-receiver tandem of Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant has emerged as the league's most dominant, leaving the Jaguars' breakout duo of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in the discussion for second-best. A true alpha dog, Robinson wins at the catch point with size, length and superior leaping ability. His 17 plays of at least 20 yards leads the NFL, while Hurns has the league's longest active touchdown streak with seven consecutive games.

Wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan told NFL Media's Jeff Darlington that Hurns' work ethic and toughness compare to Anquan Boldin's. That is lofty praise considering Larry Fitzgerald recently cited Boldin as "the toughest dude I've ever met in my life."

  1. The Titans will counter Robinson and Hurns with the NFL's third-ranked pass defense, led by the only foursome in the league with four sacks each. Defensive end Jurrell Casey remains one of the game's unsung superstars while edge rusher Brian Orakpo has resurfaced as a "game-wrecker" behind the line of scrimmage in Nashville. With injuries at cornerback, though, the Jaguars will try to exploit a secondary that has surrendered a 75 percent completion rate and 9.29 yards per attempt to Drew Brees and Cam Newton the past two weeks.
  1. Tennessee wideout Justin Hunter is out for the season and Kendall Wright will miss a third straight game, which means second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham will play a big role alongside playmaking tight end Delanie Walker. DGB is easily the Titans most intriguing wideout from a size, speed and playmaking perspective, but he has struggled mightily as a route runner, making mistakes on a weekly basis. He's overdue for a breakout game against a Jacksonville pass defense that ranks 30th in Football Outsiders' metrics.
  1. Thursday night will mark the second of four "Color Rush" games on NFL Network. The NFL has done a colorblind test this time around to ensure that there won't be a repeat of last week's issues. Titans players have joked that they will look like Smurfs in their all-blue uniforms. The Jaguars are promoting their colors as "bold" rather than gold. Despite their sepia-toned appearance, the uniforms are not meant as throwbacks to the Great Depression's Dust Bowl.
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