The Tennessee Titans dropped their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, but they had a lot of positive things to take away from that game. Up until late in the third quarter, the Titans carried the play. However, after committing turnovers on three of four drives late in the game, victory slipped away from them.
Like any team, however, the Titans have strengths and weaknesses. So here’s a quick look at three favorable and unfavorable matchups.
Three favorable matchups
Titans pass rush vs. Lions pass protection
This seems counterintuitive given all of the Detroit Lions’ struggles in pass protection over the past two years, but the Lions get rid of the ball rather quickly now and the Titans couldn’t gather much of a pass rush against Shaun Hill and the Vikings in Week 1. With Derrick Morgan’s availability now in question, the Titans could be without one of their best pass rushers.
Titans linebackers vs. Lions running backs/tight ends in coverage
While the Titans have a fierce defensive line, the inside linebackers leave much to be desired. We saw last week what Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron can do over the middle of the field: the three combined for 15 catches, 166 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Rudolph had four catches for 65 yards against the Titans last week, so like Ryan Mathews suggested, Ebron could eat on Sunday.
Titans receivers vs. Lions corners
I know the Lions secondary is still licking their wounds after being shredded by the Colts offense, but this should be a good week to recover. Though rookie Tajae Sharpe looked... sharp in his debut, none of their other receivers are really truly capable of taking over this game, including veteran Andre Johnson.
Marcus Mariota is still developing chemistry with a lot of these guys, so don’t expect an Andrew Luck-like performance from the second-year quarterback.
Three player to worry about
What the Titans lack in depth at wide receiver, they more than make up for it with tight end Delanie Walker. Walker is coming off a career year and already appears to be headed for another solid season this year. Walker is a strong, physical presence with reliable hands.
Last week, the Lions gave up seven catches for 88 yards and three touchdowns against tight ends. Oh, and DeAndre Levy is dealing with a quad issue.
The Titans defense looked strong all game against the Vikings, but was bolstered primarily by their run defense. Last year, Casey had 7 sacks on his way to a Pro Bowl season. In the season opener, Casey was seen in the backfield several times, amassing one tackle for loss and two QB hits, according to ESPN. The Lions were able to run the ball fairly well against the Colts, but they won’t have it so easy against the Titans.
Historically, the Lions haven’t done so well against mobile quarterbacks, and the Titans definitely don’t shy away from Mariota’s skills as a runner. Though he only had four rushes in the season opener, the Titans have several designed plays to get Mariota open in space. Given how poorly the Lions rushed the passer last week, Detroit could be in for a long day of chasing Mariota downfield.