Last Thursday was the quintessential Thursday Night matchup. Carolina, after taking the defending NFC champs to the brink in a 30-27 thriller, played Tampa, which had just gotten spanked by San Fran. Perpetually banged-up Cam Newton, coming off recent shoulder surgery, completed less than 50% of his passes, and the Carolina offence fizzled. Now, despite having the so-called “mini bye” that teams enjoy after a Thursday Night game, there’s strong speculation that Newton might not be able to play this Sunday due to a foot injury.
Tonight, the league will trot out two more banged-up teams, each having played a brutal game just a few days ago. Jacksonville is already on its second starting QB, Gardner Minshew, after losing high-priced offseason acquisition Nick Foles in Week One, while Marcus Mariota, he of the history of injury woes, goes for Tennessee. If I decide to watch these two, and all the other players put their bodies on the line tonight, I’ll be hard not to think about the top-level QBs who’ve already been shelved thus far this season, some for the entire season. I’ll be thinking about Andrew Luck, playing for a great team, making tons of money, who just couldn’t do it any more. And I’ll be thinking about Cam Newton.
Tennessee at Jacksonville
This game epitomizes everything that I can’t stand about Thursday football. Both teams are banged up at key positions, yet the players are expected, after just playing on Sunday, to practice and prepare to play again on only a few days’ rest. Jax CB AJ Bouye, who missed Sunday’s game, might miss yet another contest, while Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota is hobbling around yet again, but has practiced this week. In these sorts of games, playing on such short rest, a power running game helps, so expect to see lots of Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette. Ordinarily, I might lean towards Jacksonville here, especially after a strong defensive effort against Houston. However, Tennessee has been very stout on defence as well, and I’m not entirely sure that anyone can trust Jalen Ramsey at this point, after Sunday’s tirade and subsequent trade demand.