The Curious Case of the Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans vs LA Chargers Preview
By Joshua Haskins: The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers will be playing in London, England, this Sunday. This is an important game for both teams. The Tennessee Titans are 3-3 and lead the AFC South. The LA Chargers are 4-2 and sit in 2nd in the AFC West.
What can we expect to see Sunday from two teams that normally do not meet very often and never outside the United States?
From outside of Nashville, Tennessee, you may have missed the Titans last year. The lack of national (and international) media attention for small market teams is both a blessing and a curse. Last year, the Titans stumbled into the playoffs only to upset the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round by QB Marcus Mariota leading a comeback sparked by completing a touchdown pass to himself.
You cannot make these things up. Nobody would believe it. Despite a coaching change, the curious and hard-to-predict Titans have continued their form into the 2018 season.
No one team this season has quite been as hard to define as the Tennessee Titans. The Titans began the season as favorites on the road in Miami. The Dolphins have seemingly been over-hyped for a decade, and for the first time, the media was not buying it in the preseason. In the longest game in NFL history, the Titans fell to the Dolphins, 27-20.
During the multi-hour rain delay circus act of a football game, the Titans lost their quarterback (QB) Marcus Mariota, his insurance policy offensive lineman (LT) Taylor Lewan, and his favorite target tight end (TE) Delanie Walker.
The future looked bleak for the Titans. The next three games they were underdogs to the Houston Texans, defending division champion Jacksonville Jaguars, and the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite not having all the pieces, the Titans upset all three favorites and cruised to a 3-1 start. Marcus Mariota was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Two team leaders asked the national media for more respect. That is where things changed. Fans and local media were prematurely thinking about the playoffs and an illusive division title.
In the next two games against easier competition, the Titans failed to score a touchdown in back-to-back games. In the last game, the Titans were one sack shy of setting the single-game NFL record for sacks allowed.
How did this happen? Fans are angry. Media members are confused. Players are quietly working. Coaches are without answers. Just like after the opening week loss in Miami, the horizon looms ominous. The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the league winning four of their last five games.
What should we expect in London? We should expect the Titans to lose Sunday. It’s unexplainable but so far over the last two seasons, the Titans find ways to win games as major underdogs and blow games as favorites. Expect the Titans to struggle running the ball–running backs (RB) Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are in the bottom five in yards before contact.
Expect the Chargers to pile up passing yardage–corner-back (CB) Malcolm Butler has given up the most yardage and touchdowns in the NFL this season. Expect the Titans offensive line to wilt under pressure–the Chargers rank in the top three according to Pro Football Focus in pass rush.
Expect the Chargers running backs to pad the stats–the Titans rank in the bottom ten in opponent’s yard-per-carry. The Titans’ inconsistency is consistent. Therefore, we should expect the Titans to do the unexpected. Watch the Titans surprise us again and win this game.