After a 31-10 win in Jacksonville, the Titans have locked up yet another winning season under General Manager Jon Robinson.
Derrick Henry’s 215 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries reminded us what he is capable of late in the season. Now with only three games to go, the Titans and Colts are locked into a dead race for the AFC South title, with the same record and the Titans currently holding the tiebreaker. The Colts have the Texans, Steelers, and Jaguars left on the schedule, while the Titans are looking at games against the Lions, Packers and Texans. Margin for error is razor-thin if the Titans want to win the AFC South for the first time since 2008.
This weekend, a banged-up 5-8 Lions team with an interim head coach pays a visit to Nashville.
3 things to watch:
Titans pass rush: Once again, we start with the most obvious and glaring issue. Yes, the Titans defense played very well against the Jaguars on Sunday, holding rookie running back James Robinson to 67 yards and limiting the Jags to 10 points. The Titans were still unable to sack Mike Glennon or Gardner Minshew, however, and currently sit last in the NFL in sacks with 14. The Lions may be without quarterback Matt Stafford, who is dealing with a rib injury. This needs to be an opportunity for this defense to build some confidence against a bad team and put Chase Daniel on his back a few times.
Key returners in the secondary: Cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Adoree Jackson are slowly working their way back into the fold at practice, but will they be healthy enough to contribute on Sunday? Titans fans are especially interested in the return of Jackson, who has yet to make an appearance this season. With no clear path to fixing the pass rush this season, this defense needs to be focused around coverage on the back end. To have that kind of identity, the Titans must get healthy.
Titans’ offensive momentum: On Sunday, the Titans eclipsed the 30-point and 420-yard mark for the fourth straight game. They are the 13th team in NFL history to reach this mark and would be only one of five teams in NFL history to do it for five straight games if the trend continues on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill is on track to have the best season by a quarterback since the franchise moved to Nashville, and Derrick Henry still has an outside shot at a 2,000-yard season. This offense is playing with an extraordinarily high confidence, and it is extremely important not to let that falter against the Lions – one of the worst defenses in the league this season allowing 30 points per game.
The Titans win if…
The Titans will win and win easily if they do not have any disastrous plays that gift the Lions points and find an early rhythm that puts the Lions away in the first half. There is no excuse to struggle with this team, especially if Stafford is out. The Titans are a playoff team that is fighting for a division title and needs to be building momentum for the postseason. Expect another big day from Henry, and possibly a few reps for backup quarterback Logan Woodside late in the fourth quarter.
Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans (-11)
Kickoff: 12:00 pm
Location: Nashville, Tennessee (Nissan Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Radio: 104-5 The Zone
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Jonathan Hutton, Rhett Bryan
Referee: Jerome Boger
Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 48, low of 34