Written by: Joseph Yun
The Tennessee Titans are set to travel to infamously tough Mile High Stadium to take on the Broncos on Monday Night Football tonight to finish up week one of the 2020 NFL season. Just who are these wild horses from the Mile High City?
Welcome to the 2020 edition of Know Thy Enemy, Titans version where we will take a deep dive and preview each week’s opponents. Obviously we will be taking a look at the 2019 numbers until there’s enough of a sample size for each week’s opponents for the Titans.
This article and future weekly articles were written with the assistance of the Blitzalytics Prospect Encyclopedia, which you can buy a PDF or hard cover copy here. The Encyclopedia has many features such as prospects, top team stars, and other countless data points to impress the reader.
Note: all numbers courtesy of profootballreference.com
2019 record: 7-9
Key Numbers + Info (2019 season)
Points scored: 282
Points allowed: 316
Avg. yards per rush: 4.1
Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.2
Avg. rush yards per game: 103.8
Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 111.44
Rushing TDs: 11 for, 9 against
Avg. pass yards per game: 194.7
Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 222.6
Passing TDs: 16 for, 19 against
Pass Completion Rate: 62%
Pass Completion Rate Against: 65%
Top rusher: Phillip Lindsay (224 carries for 1,011 yards and seven TDs)
Top receiver: Courtland Sutton (72 receptions for 1,112 yards and six TDs)
Top tackler: Todd Davis (134 tackles, six tackles for loss, one pass defense)
Key Additions: WR Jerry Jeudy (rookie), WR K.J. Hamler (rookie), OL Calvin Anderson, TE Albert Okwuegbunam (rookie), OL Graham Glasgow, CB A.J. Bouye, DL Jurrell Casey, C Llloyd Cushenberry III (rookie), RB Melvin Gordon
Key Losses: ILB Todd Davis, WR Emmanuel Sanders, DL Derek Wolfe, DL Adam Gotsis, OL Connor McGovern, CB Chris Harris, OT Ja'Wuan James (opt-out), DL Kyle Peko (opt-out),
The Titans lead the all-time series 23-18-1 dating back to their Houston Oilers period.
What Happened In The Last Game?
The Broncos defense thoroughly dominated the Titans, shutting them out 16-0 in an offensive struggle for both sides. They also officially ended the starting tenure of now Las Vegas backup QB Marcus Mariota, ushering in the Ryan Tannehill regime.
Keys to a Titans Victory
- Control the LOS - The Titans’ defense should have the advantage over a rebuilt Broncos offensive line that lost projected right tackle James to COVID19 opt-out, left tackle Garrett Bolles being a walking holding call, and a rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry III. However, the Broncos do feature the ascendant Dalton Risner at guard so the interior will be the key. Mike Vrabel would be wise to ramp up the pressure on Bolles with either the recently signed Jadaveon Clowney or rising star Harold Landry while giving the rookie center LC3 things to think about with Jeffery Simmons facing him on top of being the signal-caller on the line as centers are apt to do. The run game will be a key factor in deciding the LOS with Melvin Gordon and the electrifying Phillip Lindsay expected to tote the rock for the Broncos against a stout front seven. Luckily for the Titans, they have two potential stars ILBs in Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans on top of Landry and elite of the elite run-stopping EDGE, Jadaveon Clowney in their midst.
- Win the Perimeter - Defensively, it will be a fascinating match-up between two equally talented secondaries and two climbing offensive skill-position groups. Whoever wins this battle will likely decide the fortunes of the game. Can the big physical threats of A.J. Brown, Jonnu Smith, and Corey Davis get separation from the wily vets such as A.J. Bouye (a very familiar face as a former Jaguar), underrated safety Justin Simmons, and Kareem Jackson (yet another familiar face as a former Texan)? Likewise, can the Titans’ talent-laden secondary that won’t have the services of speedy CB Adoree Jackson survive against the fleet-footed Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and Pro Bowl WR Courtland Sutton? Not to mention the highly-rated tight end, Noah Fant? Expect rookie Kristian Fulton to be tested early and often.
Keys to a Broncos Victory
- Managing Injuries - The Broncos’ depth in the front seven will be severely tested as all world outside ‘backer Von Miller is out for a period of time and Bradley Chubb is listed as questionable as he makes his way back from a 2019 torn ACL. Recent signing linebacker Mark Barron was declared out for the game as well. They also surprisingly released incumbent ILB Todd Davis right around cut day so their ILB depth isn’t the greatest. Can Vic Fangio piece together a good enough defense against a likely salivating Derrick Henry just itching to carve up a wounded front seven?
- Test the Titans’ Physicality - As many teams can attest, the Titans are a physical bunch that will leave opponents with their fair share of bumps and bruises. But with COVID19 inducing no preseason games, it may take defenses a bit to get their tackling legs underneath them. If the Broncos OL can keep Drew Lock upright against a fearsome Titans’ stop unit, they have the perimeter weapons to make it awfully interesting. The Titans’ secondary doesn’t have a ton of speed outside of Jackson, Byard, and Fulton but relies on veteran guile at times. I would go to Malcolm Butler and Kenny Vaccaro to make them prove that they can cover track speed consistently. While the Titans offensive line deserves plenty of accolades, there are weak points to be had, particularly in the form of right guard Nate Davis so Fangio would be wise to line up his best interior defender (Jurrell Casey and maybe Dre’Mont Jones) against him to make him work for it. DeMarcus Walker could play a key role as well. Also, it’s a whole different ball game at altitude so advantage: Denver.
What are the odds?
(all odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com)
The WestGate Superbook has the money line as Titans -155 favorites to the Broncos’ +135 dogs. They have Tennessee as a 3 point favorite and the over/under at 41 even.
William Hill has the money line as Titans -150 favorites to the Broncos +130 dogs. They have the Titans as 3 point favorites. O/U is 42 even.
Caesar’s has Tennessee as -155 favorites to the Broncos +135 dogs. They also have the Titans as 3 point favorites with the O/U at 41.5.
DENVER 28 Tennessee 17