AFC South Playoff Race Analysis: Week 1
By Max Dambach
Tennessee Titans (0-1)
Week 1 Result: Lost 26-16 to the Oakland Raiders
What it Means: The Tennessee Titans entered the season as trendy playoff contenders. They faced off against another popular up-and-coming roster in the Oakland Raiders and lost by 10, but kept the game close through three quarters of play. Quarterback Marcus Mariota looked to have fully recovered from his broken fibula late last season, but did not play at his best with one rushing touchdown and 256 yards. The running game also looked a bit sluggish after being one of the league’s best last year.
Marshawn Lynch beat the Titans at their own game by grinding out first downs late in the game. Both teams struggled to generate pressure with only three sacks between the two teams, which is a credit to both offensive lines. On defense, Derek Carr tried to pick on Adoree’ Jackson, but he managed to hold his ground well against two top 15 receivers after allowing some receptions early, and he also generated a highlight reel play on special teams by vaulting over kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who did his best Sebastian Janikowski impression by nailing two 52-yard field goals to put the game on ice.
Throughout the game, the Titans looked like a young team that was experiencing growing pains. The Titans two top rookies, Jackson and Corey Davis, both performed well in their first outing, and Mariota looked sharp. Unfortunately, starting safety Jonathan Cyprien has been ruled out for several weeks due to injury, but Da’Norris Searcy has been a starter with the team in the past. It’s difficult to fault the team for falling to a team many are pegging as a Super Bowl contender, and a win next week is all it will take for the team to find themselves tied for the division lead.
What’s Next: The Titans head down to Jacksonville to face a team that is surprisingly in possession of the division lead and look to improve their record to .500.