8 Keys to Victory (Titans)
Facing a loaded front four and arguably the NFL’s best defensive backfield, Ryan Fitzpatrick must limit the turnovers. That’s easier said than done, especially if this is a close game in the fourth quarter. Can’t give away field position or points here. The 12th Man will feed off that energy. Then the Seahawks players will feed off the 12th Man’s energy.
Red Zone Defense
One of the greatest equalizers in football comes with red zone defense. Remember those past bend-but-don’t-break Titans defenses? Just as recently as 2011, the Titans could give up large chunks of yardage and time-of-possession. Yet, they kept holding their opponents to field goals. That kept them in the game.
Not a simple task. The Seahawks have a mobile quarterback, tall wide receivers and a tight end (Zach Miller) who can create matchup problems. Don’t forget about Marshawn Lynch, a bruiser who’s almost money when inside the goal line.
Third Down Defense
Maybe the Titans’ biggest advantage comes with third-down defense. The Seahawks have the NFL’s No. 27 third-down offense. The Titans have the NFL’s No. 3 third-down defense. The Titans mustn’t let the Seahawks get into too many manageable third-down situations.
Containing Marshawn Lynch
Lynch continues to play at a Pro Bowl level. So far, Lynch has 96 carries for 410 yards with three touchdowns. His best games have come in the last two weeks against the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. He averaged 5.8 and 6.0 yards per carry.
Can the Titans slow him down? They may have to do it without Sammie Lee Hill, who hasn’t practiced as of Thursday.
Exploiting Paul McQuistan
Music City Miracles contributor Xanpham discussed the impact that Russell Okung’s injury has had on the Seahawks. McQuistan had to move from guard to tackle. He has been a liability there. Can Ropati Pitoitua and Akeem Ayers take advantage of that weakness? The Titans should get some decent pass-rush against Russell Wilson.
Speaking of Wilson…
Russell Wilson: Be Prepared for Anything
An inconsistent offensive line has forced Wilson to use his legs more than he did last season. In the last two games, Wilson has 23 carries for 179 yards. He had 102 yards against the Colts.
The Titans were a nightmare for New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith. Wilson isn’t Smith. How will the Titans handle a true mobile threat at quarterback?
Don’t give up field position or points. Special teams miscues have played a huge role in both of the Titans’ losses. The return units keep pinning the offense back inside their own 20-yard-line. They’re giving up points on muffed returns and safeties. One of those mistakes in this game would spell huge trouble.
Simply put, 25 carries for 38 yards won’t get it done.