Key Matchups Against the Seahawks in Week 3 for the Tennessee Titans
At its core, football is a game of matchups. Whichever team is able to find the most favorable matchups throughout the course of the game, and exploit these matchups, is likely to win. However, some matchups are more important than others and some games can hinge on these few matchups.
Today, we will examine three of the key matchups that will determine the course of the Tennessee Titans’ third game against the Seattle Seahawks. This game sees two teams trending in opposite directions. The Titans are where the Seahawks were several years ago, with a very promising young core of players that is starting to contend, while the Seahawks seem to be in a worse spot each year due to an offensive line that the front office seems to be refusing to address every year.
That said, the Seahawks are no pushover with their top-tier defense and Super Bowl caliber QB. The offensive futility of Seattle through two weeks combined with their dominant defensive play should lead to a low-scoring game. In low-scoring games, individual matchups become that much more important because the game is often decided by a few individual matchups and who wins them. Let’s examine three of these important matchups that will likely be major storylines this Sunday.
Matchup 1: OT Rees Odhiamba vs. OLB Brian Orakpo
The offensive line struggles of the Seahawks have been well documented over the years. The Seahawks have lost several average or above-average linemen over the years, including Russell Okung, Max Unger and J.R. Sweezy, while they have never really been able to develop another steady presence along the line, even after they drafted Germain Ifedi in the first round last year. To make matters worse for Seattle, their starting LT George Fant is out for season and has been replaced by the extremely inept Rees Odhiamba.
Odhiamba will be tasked with stopping veteran linebacker Brian Orakpo, who has one sack and two forced fumbles through the first two weeks. If Orakpo is consistently able to get into the backfield by beating Odhiamba to the edge, the Seahawks will be weakened considerably for the third week in a row. Seattle has mustered only 21 points in two weeks despite playing a Green Bay Packers team known more for their offensive firepower and an 0-2 49ers team. The Titans should look to keep the Seahawks offense ineffective in Week 3.
Matchup 2: S Kam Chancellor vs. TE Delanie Walker
This is a matchup between two of the biggest playmakers on their respective teams. Chancellor has been one of the league’s premier safeties during his time with the “Legion of Boom” and is feared throughout the league due to his physicality and tackling ability. During the same period, after spending several years in San Francisco, Delanie Walker has developed into one of the league’s premier tight ends and has developed a rapport with Marcus Mariota that is truly special.
Through the first two weeks, Walker has been named the best TE in the league by PFF. His route running and catching ability provide the ideal safety blanket for his young quarterback. Chancellor will likely be tasked with shutting down Walker and his success, or lack thereof, will have a massive impact on the effectiveness of Tennessee’s passing game. Though Walker isn’t the Titans’ only receiving threat, as was the case in past years, he is undoubtedly a key cog in the offense, without which the Titans may struggle to score points. In a game where points will likely be scarce, this matchup may have a larger effect than many realize in the outcome of the game.
Matchup 3: LB Jayon Brown vs. TE Jimmy Graham
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Walker might be the best TE in the league through two weeks, but Seattle’s tight end is no slouch either. Though Jimmy Graham may have taken some time to settle into the Seahawks offense, he and Russell Wilson finally developed a great chemistry last year that gave Seattle the red zone monster they were expecting when they traded for Graham. Though Graham is considered questionable for Sunday’s game, Pete Carroll has said that he “expects Graham to play”.
Titans rookie LB Jayon Brown has displayed the fantastic coverage ability that got him drafted in the fifth round out of UCLA, but has been a pleasant surprise with his stout run defense, earning him even more playing time in his first two weeks than could have ever been expected by NFL talent evaluators prior to the draft. Brown’s coverage abilities will truly be put to the test in Week 3 against one of the premier receiving threats at tight end in the league. As I mentioned in Walker’s matchup preview, shutting down Graham will shut down one of Wilson’s primary red zone threats and make scoring even harder in a game that is bound to be low-scoring regardless.