The Tennessee Titans last played all the way back on December 6, 2018. Playing on Thursday Night Football gives the team a mini bye-week. It seems like it’s been so long since the Titans beat the Jags 30-9. The team should be well rested. What can fans expect this Sunday against the New York Giants?
More Derrick Henry, Please
Derrick Henry is coming off a franchise record performance of 238 yards on 17 carries for 4 touchdowns. Has Henry turned the corner? Maybe it was a one-hit wonder? Whatever the case, Derrick Henry has earned the right to be the starting RB for the Titans and should receive 20 touches per game minimum this weekend. The Giants have a RB stud of their own in rookie Saquon Barkley. The Titans must stop the run and be able to run the ball in order to win this game. Henry should be a major factor if the Titans are going to win this game.
Protect and Unleash Mariota
Marcus Mariota isn’t the perfect QB. However, he is a good QB. The offensive line has been terrible for most of the season. His completion percentage is at an elite level this season. However, the Titans are only throwing the ball about 25 times per game. Look at the Saints, Chiefs, Chargers, and Rams. These teams are constantly throwing the ball 30, 40, and even 50 times per game. Mariota has the arm to win a game as he has proven many times in his young career. He’s not without his faults but he is not what is wrong with the offense. Remind the Giants that Mariota is one of the most dangerous running QBs in the league as well with designed rollouts. Keep the defense off balance.
The Big Boys Will Win or Lose the Game
Last week, the Titans offensive line had their best game of the season, giving up only 1 sack and blocking for over 250 rushing yards. With the injury to Jack Conklin, can replacement RT Dennis Kelly step in and fill the void? Throughout the year, Conklin has been the biggest liability on the OL despite being an All-Pro his rookie season. Kelly entering the lineup might actually be an improvement at this point. If the OL can block well enough to get Henry off and running early and protect Mariota during passing plays, the Titans should handily win this game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans secondary group actually leads the NFL in sacks among secondary units. With one more sack on the season, the secondary will have recorded more sacks since the team moved to Tennessee over 20 years ago. Why is this important? Well, the secondary has been solid (outside of Malcolm Butler) throughout the season. The defensive line and pass rushers have been struggling. The secondary shouldn’t always be relied on to defend the pass and rush the QB.
The most important keys to success for the Titans is to put pressure on Giants QB Eli Manning and stopping RB Saquon Barkley. Make the Giants one dimensional. If the Giants are forced into passing situations and Eli isn’t given time to throw, the Giants usually do not have success. Barkley and WR Beckham Jr. need to be shadowed at all times.
With a win in New York, the Titans would return home for the final two games of the regular season. Next week, the Titans will be heavy favorites over a crippled Washington Redskins unit that is in complete freefall. A win in New York would likely set up a playoff play-in game in Week 17 in Nashville between the Titans and Colts.