Tennessee Titans @ New Orleans Saints: Week 1 Preview

By: Justin Hawkins

The time has finally come Titans fans. The 2023 NFL season is officially upon us and the Tennessee Titans start off by heading down to The Big Easy to face the New Orleans Saints. This Titans team has a slightly different look than last year with some crucial offseason moves. 

Notable Additions

  • WR DeAndre Hopkins
  • LT Andre Dillard
  • OL Daniel Brunskill
  • LB Azeez Al-Shaair
  • OLB Arden Key
  • CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
  • OL Peter Skoronski (R)
  • RB Tyjae Spears (R)

Notable Subtractions

  • LT Taylor Lewan
  • C Ben Jones
  • OL Nate Davis
  • WR Robert Woods
  • OLB Bud Dupree
  • LB David Long Jr. 

It was a busy offseason led by new General Manager Ran Carthon, who comes from the San Francisco 49ers. Carthon comes to Tennessee with a goal in mind, building a championship roster, and doing what it takes to achieve that goal. 

It started with the offensive line ranking in the bottom-five of the league last season. With almost a complete overhaul, the Titans offensive line, initially, looks to be improved but still has much to prove and questions to answer about how well they can protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he enters year 12. However, right before training camp, second year starting right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere was suspended by the NFL for the first six games for violating the leagues gambling policy. The Titans then brought in veteran Chris Hubbard to compete for the job. Now, the offensive line looks like this heading into Sunday’s matchup from left to right:

LT Andre Dillard, LG Peter Skoronski (R), C Aaron Brewer, RG Daniel Brunskill, RT Chris Hubbard. 

Another position of desperate need of an upgrade was the wide receiver room led by second-year receiver Treylon Burks. Thus, enter DeAndre Hopkins. An immediate upgrade to the team had the expectations rise for what the offense could potentially become with new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly running the offense. 

With the likes of Hopkins, Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears (R), Chig Okonkwo, and a, hopefully, improved offensive line, the Tennessee Titans seem to be in better shape in 2023.

Now to the defense. The Titans return 8 of 11 starters, including outside linebacker Harold Landry, who missed all of 2022 with a torn ACL. Bring in the likes of Arden Key, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Azeez Al-Shaair, and the Tennessee Titans defense have upped both their pass rush and coverage. They resigned Jeffery Simmons and Amani Hooker, and still have Denico Autry, Kevin Byard to hold down the fort. I like the lethal potential of what this defense looks like. 

The Titans ranks in 2022 were as follows:


  • 23rd in total defense (351.6 YPG)
  • 32nd in passing (274.8 YPG)
  • 1st in rushing (76.9 YPG)
  • 13th in INT (14)
  • 20th in sacks (39)


  • 30th in total offense (296.8 YPG)
  • 30th in passing (171.4 YPG)
  • 13th in rushing (125.4 YPG)

Special Teams

  • 1st in punting (53.1 YPG)
  • 32nd in FGM (20)

The Matchup

Now, it is game week, so let’s talk the New Orleans Saints. The Saints, led by second-year head coach Dennis Allen, brought in veteran quarterback Derek Carr through free agency this offseason to lead the offense. The Saints come off a 2022 season in which they finished with a 7-10 record. They bring a stingy defense that finished 5th in total defense (314.8 YPG), 2nd in passing defense (184.4 YPG), 9th in scoring defense (20.3 PPG), and tied for 5th in sacks (48). On offense, the Saints were 19th in total offense (333.8 YPG), 16th in passing (217.2), and 19th in rushing (116.6). The Saints keep a consistent team heading into the 2023 season led by veterans on both sides of the ball. Notable names include defensive end’s Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas. But, Alvin Kamara will not play Sunday as he was suspended the first three games of the season. A big loss for a Saints team that relies on his big play threat in both the run and pass game. The Saints game plan will be interesting to see how they explore other options. One option for the Saints will be running back Jamaal Williams who comes over via free agency. Williams scored 17 touchdowns last season for the Lions. Keeping him out of the end zone may prove tough for the Titans, but they return with the number one defense against the rush in 2022. Despite just seven wins last season, the Saints will be no easy task. However, the same could be said for the Titans.

DeAndre Hopkins will make his anticipated debut Sunday in New Orleans. He is paired alongside Treylon Burks, who has yet to be declared available for Sunday. After suffering a knee injury in joint-practice in Minnesota four weeks ago, Burks has practiced the last two weeks. The new-look offense should give the Saints trouble. You also cannot forget one of the best running backs in professional football sports the two-tone blue colors. The run game with Derrick Henry and the addition of rookie Tyjae Spears should be used in typical Titans fashion, rely on running the ball and create options to pass. With multiple weapons on offense, OC Tim Kelly should have fun as long as Ryan Tannehill can stay upright. The offense should capitalize on a defense that was 24th in the league against the rush. The defense should try to find traction against an offense that was 19th in the league in total offense and missing Alivin Kamara.

Game Information 

Tennessee Titans (0-0) @ New Orleans Saints (0-0)

Game Time: September 10 @ 12:00pm CDT

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana (Caesars Superdome)

TV: CBS (WKRN-News 2 Nashville)

TV Broadcast Crew: Chris Lewis, Jason McCourty, Ross Tucker, Amanda Guerra

Radio: Titans Radio (104-5 The Zone)

Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Ramon Foster, Rhett Bryan

Referee: Ron Torbert

Line: NO -3

Over/Under: 41

Things To Watch 

-DeAndre Hopkins Debut

The highly anticipated wait for one of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the last decade to suit up in a Tennessee Titans uniform is finally over. With the addition of Hopkins into the offense, he brings high-caliber talent, depth to the offensive scheme, and name recognition. In his 10-year career, Hopkins has amassed 853 receptions for 11,298 yards and 71 touchdowns. Of those ten seasons, he has six 1000+ yard seasons and five 100+ reception seasons. He is the new toy for quarterback Ryan Tannehill to throw to, and a reliable target at that. Hopkins has nine touchdown receptions in Week 1 contests which puts him in a tie for the sixth-best figure in NFL history. One more would tie him with Andre Reed, Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski for third all-time. Two more would put him in a tie with Tim Brown and Irving Fryar for the most ever.

Over the course of training camp, the connection between Tannehill and Hopkins developed into something that was consistent and tough to stop. I am looking for the first actual game play with Hopkins in a Titans uniform on Sunday to showcase his skills.

-Derrick Henry vs. Saints Defense

It is obvious that Derrick Henry has been one of the most dominant forces in the NFL since 2018. Last year, with a terrible offensive line in front of him, Henry still managed to run for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns. With the Saints having just the 24th ranked rush defense a year ago, I’m curios to see how Henry fare’s given a supposed better line in front of him. Will there be rust, or will the King do what he does best?

-Chris Olave & Michael Thomas vs. Titans Secondary

Last season, Chris Olave broke onto the scene in his rookie year with 1,042 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Thomas has yet to play a full season since 2019 where he was one of the most lethal wide receivers in the NFL. The duo goes up against a defense that ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass in 2022, but brought in some help in Sean Murphy-Bunting. With SMB and Kristian Fulton at corner, second year defensive back Roger McCreary, and returning safeties Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker in the secondary, it will be all hands on deck to stop this passing attack that no one has seen, especially with adding quarterback Derek Carr. 


  • 2023 could push running back Derrick Henry further into Tennessee Titans record books. Something to watch out for and take note of as the Titans season begins Sunday is Henry (8,335 career rushing yards) needing just 239 rushing yards to pass the great Earl Campbell for second in franchise history who has 8,574 yards. He would need 1,674 rushing yards to pass Eddie George for first in franchise history who has 10,009 yards. Barring something unseen, Henry should become the franchise’s second leading rusher. If the both Henry and the offensive line have at least a better season than 2022, we may see Henry overtake Eddie George’s record.
  • New Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins enters Sunday’s contest with an active streak of 145 consecutive games with a reception, which is every game of his NFL career. This streak is also the longest streak in the NFL. The 10-year pro ranks first in the NFL in receptions since 2013 with 853 leading a close Travis Kelce with 814. Hopkins is also second in the NFL in receiving yards with 11,298 behind only Julio Jones, former Titan, who has 11,472. 
  • The last time the two teams faced off was at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on November 14, 2021 in week 10. The Titans earned a 23- 21 victory. The Titans defense tallied four sacks, including two sacks by Jeffery Simmons, and stopped the Saints on a late two-point conversion that would have tied the score at 23-23. Ryan Tannehill passed for a touchdown and rushed for another score in the win.