The Tennessee Titans are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but their hopes are much diminished from what they were two weeks ago. The team sits at 5-8 heading into a home game against Bruce Arians’s much improved Arizona Cardinals team. If the 2013 Titans were playing Ken Whisenhunt’s 2012 Cardinals, this game would be a nearly automatic win; however, it’s not the same now. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, the Titans have an unpredictable offense that can either boom or bust. Fitzpatrick’s two sides of “Fitzmagic” and “Fitztragic” make it terrifying for Titans fans every time he rips the ball loose from his hand. The quarterback cannot be relied on to win a game, but some guys have to be. So who are they in this game against the Cardinals?
Kendall Wright – Wide Receiver
Mr. Kendall Wright has been killing it this season. The second-year receiver out of Baylor has 73 receptions for for 857 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and a whopping 39 first downs in 13 games. The most impressive part of Wright’s 11.7 average yards per reception is that he picks up most yards after the catch. He has shown his ability to make plays after the catch with great speed, which he lacked in his rookie season. If the Titans can get Kendall Wright the ball often, he will make plays on a very stout Cardinals defense.
David Stewart – Right Tackle
“Big Country” David Stewart has struggled in 2013: he’s struggled to protect the quarterback, he’s struggled to generate a running game, and he’s struggled to stay healthy. It’s quite likely that Stewart will not be with the Titans in 2014. The 31-year old offensive lineman has had to battle injuries throughout the past couple of years, and he isn’t getting any younger; nevertheless, he is a Titan today. The right tackle will be facing off against 3-4 outside linebacker John Abraham, who the Titans failed to sign in free agency before the season. Now Abraham has 11 sacks in six games, where as the Titans’ leading ends have 4 sacks each (Ropati Pitouitua and Derrick Morgan). Stewart is going to have to hold off Abraham if the team wishes for Ryan Fitzpatrick or Chris Johnson to be effective on Sunday.
Jason McCourty – Cornerback
Jason McCourty will likely get the fun task of covering Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday. Despite having merely 67 receptions for 774 yards, Fitzgerald has scored 10 receiving touchdowns. Jason McCourty is going to have to play sticky tight defense in order to shut down Carson Palmer’s star receiver and maybe force some turnovers.
Derrick Morgan – Defensive End
The Cardinals have allowed 36 sacks this season, which is nearly 3 sacks per game. This means that the Titans should be able to produce some pressure on Carson Palmer, unlike how they were unable to sack Peyton Manning once last week in Denver. Star defensive tackle Jurrell Casey will like be double teamed throughout the game; therefore, the defensive ends will need to get to the quarterback. Derrick Morgan has four sacks on the season, which is a lot less than expected from the former first-round pick out of Georgia Tech. If he can disrupt Carson Palmer, the Titans will have a strong chance to send the Arizona Cardinals to 8-4
Zach Brown – Outside Linebacker
Brown is a playmaker. Period. He’s experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in comparison to his fantastic rookie campaign. Despite going missing in a few games, Brown has 77 tackles, 4 sacks, and an interception. If Brown can heavily involved in this game, there will be plays made by #55.
The Titans are technically still in the playoff race. The team is going to play hard at home against this Arizona Cardinals team. If guys will play at the top of their potential, there is no way that the Tennessee Titans won’t have their sixth win of the season.