The 2021 NFL regular season kicks off for the Tennessee Titans this Sunday as they host the Arizona Cardinals at Nissan Stadium.
With the foundation of the roster firmly set in place, the Titans were able to bring in several players that fit their philosophy and should play important roles. The excitement level for fans of the team is high and deservedly so.
This is a fun matchup to kickoff the season with two high powered offenses that get it done in contrasting ways. The Cardinals and QB Kyler Murray, who returns to Nashville after being drafted first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft that was hosted on Broadway, like to spread the field and air it out. As for the Titans, it has been more of a balanced approach of Derrick Henry on the ground and Ryan Tannehill through the air.
Should be a fun one at Nissan Stadium.
Arizona Cardinals (0-0) @ Tennessee Titans (0-0)
Game Time: 12:00 pm CDT
Location: Nashville, TN (Nissan Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Tom McCarthy and Aaron Taylor
Radio: Titans Radio, 104-5 The Zone
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Rhett Bryan
Referee: Jerome Boger
Line: Tennessee -3
Over/ Under: 52.5
Attending the Game?
Giveaway: Tennessee Tough Tailgate Flag (first 30,000 fans)
12th Titan: TBA
National Anthem: NFL-wide pregame simulcast
Halftime Performance: Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands
Three Things to Watch
First Look at Third Down Defense – In 2020, the Titans surrendered a first down to their opponents a league-worst 51.87% of the time on third down. Since last season, Shane Bowen has been promoted from outside linebacker coach to defensive coordinator and several key additions were made. Bud Dupree and Denico Autry should help generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks with the rest of a solid front seven, while Jackrabbit Jenkins, Caleb Farley, and Elijah Molden join a revamped secondary. Let’s see if the Titans’ defense can get off the field on third down against a Cardinals’ offense that has plenty of talent and playmakers.
Familiar Face in a New Place Returns – Entering his second year with Arizona, WR DeAndre Hopkins returns to Nissan Stadium to face the Titans for the first time since being traded by the Houston Texans. In the 13 games that Hopkins has played against the Titans, he has 83 receptions for 1,313 yards and seven touchdowns. With seven 100+ yard receiving performances and averaging 15.8 yards per catch against the Titans in his career, Hopkins always has the capability of being a game changer. With several new members in the Titans’ secondary, defending Hopkins, along with other talented targets such as A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and rookie Rondale Moore, is no easy task for a group that is playing their first game as an entire unit.
Could Rust be a Factor for the Offense? – Needless to say, there are high expectations for this Titans’ offense. Question is: does it take time for it to gel? There are several moving parts to answer this question. Todd Downing takes over for Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator. Several key contributors did not play in the preseason. New starters at right tackle and tight end. Both Ben Jones and Nate Davis missed some in-person preparation time due to being on the COVID-19/Reserve list until Wednesday. Taylor Lewan plays in his first regular season game since October 17th of last season. They could very well be firing on all cylinders from the get go, but if not, the lack of time spent together might be a factor to keep in mind.
Did You Know?
- WR Josh Reynolds, a former Los Angeles Ram, has played against Arizona eight times in his career, owning an unblemished 8-0 record versus the Cardinals.
- The two teams have played each other twice inside Nissan Stadium, with both meetings ending via a game-winning score on the final play. In 2009, concluding a 99-yard drive, Vince Young connected with Kenny Britt from 10 yards out to help the Titans win in walk-off fashion, 20-17. It was the Cardinals who earned a 37-34 victory in 2013 on the last play of the game, thanks to a 41-yard Jay Feely field goal.
- RB Derrick Henry needs one rushing touchdown to pass Chris Johnson for third on the team’s all-time list. Henry and Johnson are currently tied with 58 rushing touchdowns, trailing only Eddie George (74) and Earl Campbell (73).