Game: Tennessee Titans vs. Oakland Raiders on September 10th
The single toughest matchup for the Titans this season, in my humble opinion, will be the Week 1 matchup against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders share many similarities with the Titans, in that both teams are new playoff contenders. Both teams also have young quarterbacks coming off major leg injuries. Both teams experienced years mired in mediocrity due to bad drafting decisions.
Titans vs. Raiders has already been tabbed as a potentially great rivalry for years to come, and this could be the next installment in that rivalry. Both teams would love to start the season with a win and would like to make a statement in what might well be a playoff preview. The Raiders made several improvements in the offseason with the acquisition of Marshawn Lynch and the drafting of Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu to upgrade the secondary.
The explosive passing attack of the Raiders will certainly test a new Titans secondary in their first game, and it will be a real indicator of how much the secondary has improved this offseason. The arrival of Marshawn Lynch has been a bit overstated for a running back who is well past the age of 30, so the passing attack should be more worrisome for the Titans.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Titans should look to run the Raiders into the ground. The Raiders have struggled to find a good MLB or DT, which makes them susceptible to a strong ground game like that of the Titans. Running the ball will also keep it out of the hands of Derek Carr and the Raiders offense.
The Titans would love to begin the game with a statement win against another team that experts are pegging as a possible Super Bowl contender. Tennessee played Oakland close at home last season, but this year, the Titans should look to pull out a win. The Titans’ biggest strength (their running game) directly counters the Raiders’ biggest weakness (their run defense), which should hopefully lead to a win for the two-tone blue.
In conclusion, the Titans’ toughest matchups all seem to be in the first half of the season, except for the Steelers game, which means the Titans may start slow. If the Titans can make it through the first half of the season above .500, they stand a great chance of finishing the year off strong against lesser opponents and wrapping up the division.