The Tennessee Titans are trying to build on a streak in which they have won three of their past four games, while the Jacksonville Jaguars are desperately looking for a turnaround after being smacked around in back-to-back setbacks.
The two AFC South teams battle on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn., with the Jaguars (4-6) looking to halt a five-game losing streak in Music City when they clash with the Titans (5-5).
Both squads could badly use a win with the division race being jumbled. The co-leading Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans -- both with 6-4 records -- play each other on Thursday night.
No matter the Thursday night result, Tennessee's positioning would improve with a win over the Jaguars.
"This is the NFL, right? It's a tough, tough league, and every week is huge, especially late in the year," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said at a press conference. "So we have to play our best football here down the stretch, and it starts this week with Jacksonville."
Tannehill has fueled Tennessee's improved play since replacing Marcus Mariota. His promotion kickstarted the 3-1 stretch and he has guided three game-winning drives, including a 35-32 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 10 before the team's bye.
Tannehill has thrown eight touchdown passes over the four-game stretch and twice topped 300 yards passing.
"Just trying to go out and play good football," Tannehill said. "We've got good players on this team and good weapons on the outside, so just trying to distribute the football and throw it to the open guy. ... I think we've done a decent job at certain times of executing and being an efficient offense, and that's what we'll look to do."
Standout runner Derrick Henry (832 yards, eight touchdowns) racked up a season-best 188 rushing yards against the Chiefs. The former Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama is likely salivating to see the Jaguars on the schedule based on two prime reasons.
The first is that Jacksonville has allowed an average of 240 rushing yards over the past two games -- 216 in a 26-3 loss to the Texans and 264 in a 33-13 defeat to the Colts.
Secondly, Henry rushed for a career-best 238 yards and four touchdowns in a 30-9 home rout of the Jaguars last December. Among the highlights was an exhilarating 99-yard scoring run on the Thursday night television stage.
Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone has been working overtime to shore up the run deficiencies, including adjusting Wednesday's practice schedule to focus on tackling. The Jaguars rank 29th in stopping the run at 134.6 yards per game.
"Tennessee is not a team that you just go in there and stop a couple of plays and they just stop running the ball," defensive tackle Abry Jones told reporters. "They have a great workhorse back there who deserves to get the ball down-in and down-out.
"It's a mentality to make sure we're going to take away the run game from them and if they think they can get it back, we have to keep taking it from them."
The Jacksonville defense bottled up Henry and his offensive teammates pretty well earlier this season while posting a 20-7 home victory. The Jaguars limited Henry to 44 yards on 17 carries and harassed Mariota repeatedly while posting nine sacks.
Jacksonville won that contest with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew running the show. Veteran Nick Foles returned from a broken clavicle last Sunday and completed 33 of 47 passes for 296 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Colts.
Foles sees time running out on the Jaguars if they can't immediately improve from the last two games when they were outscored by a combined 59-16.
"We're going through our journey right now. Everyone wants you just to arrive at the end goal, but that's not how this thing works," Foles told reporters. "We're in that tough time. This is where you get tested. ... That's where we're at right now.
"This is where your culture is built. This is where you establish so many things -- in these trials. We're figuring out who we are as a culture."
The Titans hope to have a key defender back as tackle Jurrell Casey (shoulder) returned to practice Wednesday after missing the previous two games.
Tennessee has won four of the past five overall meetings.
--Field Level Media