NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans face an uphill battle when they travel to Jacksonville for a clash with their division rival on Sunday. The Titans' passing game has yet to get on track and is ranked 25th with an average of 201.5 yards per game over the first two weeks.
The Jaguars rank 24th against the pass, allowing 215 yards per game after facing New England in Week 2, but they boast one of the NFL's top cornerback tandems -- Pro Bowlers Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Ramsey gets most of the attention because he backs up his brash talk by plastering himself on opposing receivers. Bouye lets his play do the talking.
It will be up to a young group of wideouts to give the Tennessee passing game a spark against the Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, CBS), who have allowed only two passing touchdowns this season -- both in Week 2 by the Patriots' Tom Brady.
Second-year Titan Corey Davis is looking to establish himself as the team's lead receiver. He only had one reception for 4 yards on five targets against Jacksonville as an injury-plagued rookie last season, so a standout game against Ramsey and the Jaguars would be a big statement for the No. 5 overall pick in 2017.
Davis didn't see much of Ramsey as a rookie, but he came away impressed with the cornerback's skills.
"He's a great corner," Davis said. "He's consistent. To me, he's one of the best easily. He's long, he's fast. He can do it all. He plays the slot. He's versatile."
Ramsey is known for more than just his sticky coverage. He has made a name for himself because of the way he can get under the skin of wide receivers. Davis knows Ramsey will have some trash talk, but vows to remain focused.
"It doesn't matter to me whether there's talk or not," Davis said. "I mean, I'm definitely not mute out there. I will talk if you talk to me, but I am just going to play my game."
Ramsey's ability to cover the slot could be a factor Sunday. Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has resorted to various shifts and motions to move Davis across the formation. That often allows Davis to be matched up against the opposing defense's nickel cornerback, which typically favors his game.
The Jaguars could counter by moving Ramsey inside to cover Davis and take away the advantage LaFleur wants to exploit. When this happens, someone else has to step up for the Titans.
Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, and Rishard Matthews will be the primary receivers called upon to supplement Davis. Taylor flashed his electrifying playmaking ability in Week 2 when he caught a screen pass and raced 18 yards to the end zone after making a defender miss.
On paper, this matchup seems lopsided in favor of the Jaguars. Other than Davis (11 receptions for 117 yards), no receiver on the Titans has 100 yards receiving or more than three receptions. Tennessee's longest reception came courtesy of a brilliantly executed fake punt that covered 66 yards when safety Kevin Byard found rookie safety Dane Cruikshank for a touchdown.
The Titans' uncertainty at quarterback doesn't do their receivers any favors, either. Coach Mike Vrabel elected to bring an old-school, smash-mouth approach against the Houston Texans, with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert replacing starter Marcus Mariota, who couldn't play because of an elbow injury that kept him from gripping the football comfortably. Mariota's status will be determined later in the week.
Though Gabbert would love to face his former team, obviously the offense is more explosive with Mariota under center. Vrabel and the Titans held on to beat Houston, but they can't afford to be as one-dimensional against a much better Jaguars defense that will dare the young group of Titans receivers to beat them.
Tennessee's anemic passing game has to come alive and take advantage of defensive schemes geared to stop the run.