It’s the last day of school for 20 teams as the NFL wraps up it’s 2017 regular season campaign. The Tennessee Titans hope to not be one of those teams calling it a season as they can clinch the postseason with a win. The NFL week 17 free pick is an interesting one, because Tennessee’s opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars – a division opponent that holds their rivals fate in their own hands.
The Jags are going to the playoffs after clinching the AFC South and they’ll be playing next week as New England and Pittsburgh have secured the first round byes in the conference. The line has dropped from a Tennessee -5 open to TEN -1.5. Jacksonville will be playing all of their starters and attacking this contest like a meaningful game. There’s one big question though – would the Jags actually prefer the Titans make the playoffs so that they can play a familiar foe next week as opposed to the Chargers or Bills?
Trouble for the Jaguars Defense?
The Jacksonville offense put up 33 points last week against San Francisco which should have led to a win with the strong Jaguars defense. However, Jacksonville surrendered 44 points to Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers for the Jags first loss in four weeks. For the NFL week 17 free pick it’s important to note that the Jags have lost two road games in a row (24-27 loss to Arizona in week 13) and struggled in a third winning just 19-7 over Cleveland.
Jacksonville has also already lost to Tennessee this season, 16-37 in week two. The Titans ran for 179 in that contest, picked off Blake Bortles twice, and held the Jags #1 rushing offense to under 100 yards on the ground. The Jacksonville offense will be leading the charge today as they’ve put up 30+ points in four straight games. Bortles should also have success against the Titans #25 ranked passing defense. This afternoon’s contest suddenly became important for Jacksonville to answer their own questions before the postseason gets under way.
— The Jaguars Wire (@TheJaguarsWire) December 31, 2017
How Do the Titans Fare in a Must-Win Situation?
Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota is about to play in the biggest game of his NFL career thus far, trying to make the postseason for the first time. The Titans haven’t made the postseason since 2008 and this is actually the first time in Mariota’s three year career that he’ll be playing in week 17 after injuries sidelined him the last two. Unfortunately for Titans fans, their team is slumping to wind down the year having lost three straight games. Mariota has questions to answer too as he has tossed 9 INT in the last six games against just 5 TD.
The Titans may opt for the ball security of the running game against the Jags #1 pass defense. RB Derrick Henry amassed 92 yards on 17 carries in the first game of the season between these two but he hasn’t had more than 25 yards and 8 carries in any of the past three games. DeMarco Murray is out Sunday with a knee injury so it will be Henry’s time to shine. Either way, all eyes are likely going to be on Mariota in the NFL week 17 free pick. He should have confidence after Garoppolo ripped the Jags D last week going 21/30 for 242 yards and 2TD.
— Jason Wolf (@JasonWolf) December 31, 2017
NFL Week 17 Free Pick – Betting
Bettors are split in this game with about 52% liking Jacksonville and the points. There are two things working in the Titans favor today – 1) the Jaguars have struggled on the road and 2) Jacksonville may prefer playing the Titans in the postseason. Either way, the Jags may just pull their starters early and rest up for whoever they face. Any scenario favors Tennessee – especially at home on New Year’s Eve.
Pick: Tennessee Titans -1.5