Week 2 vs. Detroit Lions: Matchups to Watch
Identifying potential matchups that can decide the outcome of the Tennessee Titans week two matchup against the Detroit Lions.
In the style of Bill Belichick, “we’re on to Detroit”. Week one is behind us and the Detroit Lions should be our, and the team’s, main focus for the rest of the week. There’s no point in living in the past, no matter how demoralizing the week one loss was.
Week two’s matchup against the Lions is an intriguing one. Both teams have suspect defenses, yet both offenses couldn’t be more different. While the Lions are a pass-first team with quick receivers and scatbacks, the Titans are a run-first team with powerful runners and possession receivers. It will be a clash of football cultures in Detroit.
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Titans linebackers vs. Lions running backs
This will undoubtedly, in my mind, be the matchup that will determine the outcome of this game. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are electric backs, capable of creating dynamic mismatches in the passing game. Abdullah was too quick for the Colts linebackers last week and Riddick showed well in the running game also. The Titans were able to completely stifle the Vikings ground game, but this will be a stiffer test as we won’t be able to load the box due to Matthew Stafford being the Lions quarterback. Avery Williamson looked a bit lost on a couple of big running back receptions in the preseason, so he may be the guy the Lions choose to single out with Riddick.
Delanie Walker vs. Lions Linebackers/Safeties
Why Walker wasn’t a bigger part of the game plan in week one is up for debate, but the Titans would be wise to implement him heavily this week. Walker showed last year that he can be both a safety blanket and a big play waiting to happen. In this matchup, he may get the chance to be both. The Lions coughed up three touchdowns to tight ends last week. Two went to former Titans practice squad legend Jack Doyle and the other to Dwayne Allen. Neither are fleet-footed, but the Lions still struggled to keep track of them on all three touchdowns. Walker should be open often and will be needed in a game that may turn into a shootout.
Marcus Mariota vs. Lions pressure
I’m not overly concerned with the Lions defensive backfield. Darius Slay is a fine cornerback, but he isn’t unavoidable. The rest of their defensive talent isn’t too intimidating, as witnessed by their performance against a Colts offense that put up 35 points. Our receivers and running baccks will get open, and Mariota should get the ball to them easily. But it’s when there’s pressure that Mariota really struggled last week. Pressure forced him into a terrible interception that led to a touchdown, and it’s pressure like that that has flustered him a bit in his short career. The Lions won’t get a ton of pressure, but when they do, Mariota must remain calm and wait for the right read to open up. Or just hold onto the ball and take a sack (PLEASE).