The Tennessee Titans played in the longest game in NFL history last Sunday. The unfortunate thing is all that time invested did not end up in a win for them. Now they head back home to see the Houston Texans, who lost their season-opener to the New England Patriots. Both teams come in trying to avoid an 0-2 start and with the Titans having homefield advantage, it should be good for the home team. The Titans, however, cannot depend on just having homefield advantage to pull even at 1-1 on the season. Here are six things they must do well in Week 2 in order to get a mark in that win column.
1) Time to get physical
The Tennessee Titans offensive line was not as physical as they were last season in Week 1. The running game got going as the game went on, but they should have started pushing around the Dolphins from the beginning. In this one against Houston, they have to set the tempo up front from the get-go. The more they are able to get it going on the ground, the more the Titans will be able to control the game and that could mean trouble for the Texans.
2) Handle with care
The quarterback delivers the package, so accuracy is big. With Marcus Mariota last weekend, he was accurate for a stretch, but once that elbow injury occurred, his accuracy went out the window. He threw two interceptions and ended up leaving the game with the injury. It’s expected he will play this game, so the Titans are hoping he gets the feeling back when it comes to throwing the football and that he keeps turnovers to a minimum or maybe even doesn’t have any at all. The more he is able to protect the football, the better the chances of Tennessee beating the Texans.
3) Make it quick
The Patriots are known for mixing up their speeds offensively and that can give defenses problems. The Titans are very capable of changing speeds and that could cause the Texans some problems. The Titans and Matt LaFleur should try to tire out the Texans on what should be a hot and humid day on Sunday. The faster they are able to run their offense, the more the Texans will be sucking wind as the game goes on and by the fourth quarter, the Titans would have the edge offensively.
1) Dance with Deshaun Watson
Watson is one of the premiere young quarterbacks in the NFL even after limited action on the field. His quickness, speed and his understanding of the position make him highly dangerous to face. To keep him in check, the Titans will need all hands on deck. Mush rushes along with potentially having a spy on him at all times will be key in making sure Watson does not light them up like he did last season when the two teams met in Houston.
2) Malcolm’s time
Malcolm Butler made a huge play against Miami last week, picking off a pass in the endzone and saving a touchdown. The challenge for him this week is a little bit different because he faces one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins. The battle should be a good one, but for the Titans, they will need Butler to bring his best. The less effective Hopkins is, the better the chances the Titans have to win the game.
3) Filling the gap
The Titans were a very solid run defense last season. This season start in that facet of the game was not as good. The Titans gave up an average of 4.1 yards per carry and veteran running back Frank Gore was doing anything he wanted. The Titans don’t have to face Gore this week, but they do face a younger, more explosive former Miami Hurricane in Lamar Miller. The Titans better show up more this week stopping the run than they did last week.
This game is huge for both Tennessee and Houston because neither wants to start their season 0-2. The home crowd should be a good thing for Tennessee, but they cannot solely depend on it to get them through. They have to play well and they have to do most if not all of these points to win this pivotal game.
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