The Tennessee Titans (7-2) return to Nissan Stadium this Sunday with their five-game winning streak, as the New Orleans Saints (5-3) come marching into Nashville.
New Orleans visits Middle Tennessee for the second time in three seasons, now possible with 17 regular season games. Last week, the Saints saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, falling to the Atlanta Falcons 27-25.
Trevor Siemian, who was on the Titans practice squad in 2020, is now the starting quarterback after Jameis Winston tore his ACL two weeks ago. A very slow start last week for the Saints offense has some questioning if Taysom Hill will see more action as the signal caller.
Running back Alvin Kamara is a critical piece in the Saints offense, but is listed on this week’s injury report. As important as Kamara is to the running game, he is equally needed in the passing game. With 32 receptions this season, the former Tennessee Volunteer leads the Saints in receptions and is second with 310 receiving yards.
Defensively, New Orleans ranks in the top half of most categories, but is specifically really good at stopping the run. The Saints are also one of the better red zone defenses, which should make for a fun matchup against a Titans offense that is one of the top red zone offenses in the league.
For the Titans, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The pressure from the defensive front has been hard to handle for opponents. Simmons, Autry, Landry, and Dupree have been frequent visitors in the backfield.
Offensively, let’s see how the running back by committee continues to develop. It will not be easy running against this New Orleans defense. Also, expect a bounce back performance from A.J. Brown. He had some uncharacteristic drops last week that I am sure he is ready to make up for.
What a run the Titans are on right now. An opportunistic offense, a swarming defense, and an effective special teams unit has been fun to watch as we head to the second half of the season. When people mention “complementary football”, this is what they are talking about.
New Orleans Saints (5-3) @ Tennessee Titans (7-2)
Game Time: 12:00 pm CDT
Location: Nashville, TN (Nissan Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins
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: 44.5
Attending the Game?
Charitable Drive: Coat Drive
Giveaway: Salute to Service Rally Towels (first 30,000 fans)
12th Titan: Former U.S. Marine and Titans fullback Ahmard Hall
National Anthem: Thompson Square
Halftime Performance: Titans Salute to Service
Three Things to Watch
Saints Backfield – With Alvin Kamara listed on the injury report due to a knee injury, it creates even more questions about an offense that has looked for answers since Jameis Winston’s season-ending injury a few weeks ago. Kamara is a huge part of the Saints offense and was a key contributor in a victory over the Titans back in 2019. On 17 total touches, Kamara had 110 total yards of offense and two touchdowns in that game. Leading the Saints in rushing this season, the University of Tennessee product is just 13 yards shy of also leading the team in receiving. If Kamara is unable to go, keep an eye out for Mark Ingram, who recently rejoined the Saints after being traded by Houston, and Taysom Hill, who can line up anywhere on the Saints offense. Needless to say, the availability of Kamara is a big storyline heading into Sunday.
Titans Run Game vs. Saints Defense – In less than a week after Derrick Henry’s injury, the Titans were able to create new roles in the running game and distribute carries amongst several running backs. Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman, who were both new additions to the roster, contributed over 20 yards a piece, while Jeremy McNichols had seven carries, which matched his season total in the seven games he had played in prior to Sunday night. As a group, the three backs combined had 22 carries for 74 yards, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The challenge will be even greater this week, as the Saints enter with the best run stopping defense in the NFL, allowing a league best 73.8 rushing yards per game. We know how important the running game is to the Titans offense, so let’s see what they are able to accomplish against a very good Saints run defense.
Hidden Yardage – With Derrick Henry for the Titans and Jameis Winston for the Saints both being placed on IR last week, Week 9 for both offenses was an adjustment period. The Titans took advantage of their opportunities against the Rams, scoring touchdowns on all three drives that entered the red zone and had some big time plays from their defense. As for the Saints, the first game since Winston’s injury was not as successful. A two point loss to Atlanta is a little deceiving, as the Falcons led 24-6 with 10 minutes left in the game. It took 19 unanswered 4th quarter points for the Saints to take a lead that they would lose to the Falcons on a game-winning field goal on the last play of the game. All of this to say, the field position battle will be important for both sides. Both teams are in the top five in the league in punt return average, while the Saints rank sixth in the NFL in kickoff return average. Penalty yardage will also factor into the hidden yardage equation. As is always the case, shorter fields will be beneficial for both offenses.
Did You Know?
- Newly acquired Titans running back Adrian Peterson found the end zone last Sunday for the 125th time in his career, tying Walter Payton for the 11th most career touchdowns in NFL history. Peterson’s next touchdown would tie Jim Brown for the 10th most touchdowns in NFL history.
- Titans wide receiver Julio Jones is no stranger to the New Orleans Saints. Spending the first 10 seasons of his career with the Atlanta Falcons, Jones has played against the Saints 18 times. While Jones averages 15.8 yards per reception against New Orleans, the Saints have not allowed many scores to the talented wide receiver. Jones has not recorded a touchdown in his last seven games against the Saints, with his last score coming on New Year’s Day in 2017.
- With three sacks last Sunday in Los Angeles, Jeffery Simmons achieved several notable milestones. Simmons’ three sacks were the most in the “Titans era” in a primetime game, surpassing the 2.5 sacks Henry Ford had in a Sunday night game at Miami in 1999. All three sacks by Simmons occurred in the first half, which had never been done in franchise history. Four former Oilers/Titans had recorded three sacks in the second half of a game, most recently Kyle Vanden Bosch in 2007, but Simmons is the only player in franchise history to accomplish the feat in the first half.