The Tennessee Titans did something no one expected them to do last weekend: defeat the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. The Titans won in impressive fashion when they overcame a 21-3 deficit at halftime and outscored the Chiefs 19-0 after the half. With one daunting task comes another though as the Titans now head to Foxboro to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The task will be tough for Tennessee. They will be facing a Patriots team that has had some distractions since the last time they played. Will those distractions galvanize them or will they throw them off course? Saturday will tell us a lot about that but when it comes to the Titans, they have some questions to answer as well. Will they step up and play a complete game or will they sit there and will they wait until they get down to start fighting once again? There are many things that have to happen, but these six things could surely help them have a great opportunity.
1) Feed The Beast
Derrick Henry was not at all pleased by his performance in the season finale versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. He called himself “soft” and he definitely atoned for the season finale versus the Kansas City Chiefs (23 carries, 156 yards and one touchdown). In this game versus New England, the Titans will need more of Henry. The Titans should feed him at least 25-30 times and give him an opportunity to wear out the Patriots defense and keep them in the game.
2) Marcus The Great
Let’s hold our horses here. Marcus Mariota is not a great quarterback at this present time. In fact, there are many Titans fans that are not sure he will ever be a great quarterback. While that question may still be out there for many to talk over, one thing that cannot be questioned is the courage he has displayed in big moments for the Titans in his first playoff game. Mariota had some bad throws and plays, but he scrambled for some big first downs and made some big throws to win the game. Against the Patriots, he is going to need to do the same. There will be plays to be made, Marcus just has to make them and make them often.
3) Catch The Football
No catchy line for this point. The Titans missed some big plays last week by failing to secure the football. Fortunately, they were able to come back and win but this week, those things could cost them. Guys like Eric Decker and Corey Davis need to not only get open but catch the football. There cannot be any slipups this week versus the Patriots. The longer the Titans are able to keep the Patriots off the field, the more they enhance their chances to win. Simple fundamentals like running and catching can go a long way.
1) Bring The Heat
The Tennessee Titans brought some heat against a mobile quarterback in Alex Smith last week in Kansas City. They were able to tally four sacks in the win and rendered the Chiefs offense lifeless. This week, Tom Brady will be the target and the Titans have to get to him. If they don’t get to him, at least bring the heat to his doorstep. The Titans have to bring pressure to him, especially up the middle. The guy that has to be a huge factor in this one is defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. Brady likes to step up in the pocket to evade pressure while he throws the football. If Casey is able to bring the pressure up the middle, there is no way Brady is outrunning anyone while he runs outside. The more the pressure gets there, the more the Patriots have to get rid of the football quicker than they want to and that helps the Titans tremendously.
2) Brian Orapko Sighting
The veteran pass rusher did not have the season he wanted to this year, only getting seven sacks on the season. While the regular season may have been disappointing, Orapko got 1.5 sacks in the first game of the postseason versus the Chiefs. The Titans will need more of that energy and desire along with skill if they are to win this game. Sure, Casey has to play well but someone has to be there to benefit from his pressures up the middle, so why not Orapko?
3) The Ghost Of Logan Ryan
The Patriots gained one corner this past offseason and lost another in Logan Ryan to the Tennessee Titans. The prized free agent has not exactly been the player the Titans hoped he would be, but he has been solid for them at times. However, in this game, he needs to be not only solid on the field but solid in what information he can provide for his team. After all, he was a member of the Patriots for a few years before becoming a Titan. For the Titans, hopefully he can be the player they hoped he was for one night while helping his fellow secondary teammates to some things to look for when it comes to Tom Brady.
The Titans are going in to New England with nothing to lose and everything to gain. The Patriots have all the pressure on them. Still, you have to play the games and the Titans have to play a great game to win this one on the road. Survive and advance or fall to the champs? The Titans hold their fate in their own hands.
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