Tennessee Titans: Previewing the 2018 Schedule – Week 7

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 31: Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers avoids the tackle from James Cowser #47 of the Oakland Raiders during the second half of the game at StubHub Center on December 31, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 31: Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers avoids the tackle from James Cowser #47 of the Oakland Raiders during the second half of the game at StubHub Center on December 31, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Continuing to examine the 2018 Tennessee Titans schedule by taking a look at their Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Now that most rosters are largely set in stone following free agency and the draft, we can finally begin to look ahead to next season and gauge how the Tennessee Titans’ roster will match up with opponents’, as well as start to put together a rough estimate for wins and losses. With little to no news coming out of training camps this time of year except for notable absences, this marks a great time to preview how each team the Titans will face has changed over the offseason and whether that team is trending up or down in 2018.

In several seasons, Chargers fans will look back on 2017 and wonder what could have been. Despite being beset by a number of injuries, the Chargers, under first-year head coach Anthony Lynn, overcame an 0-4 start to finish 9-7 and narrowly miss out on a wild card spot. The Chargers are almost perennially tabbed as contenders, but have been one of the most unlucky teams in the league with more injuries, kicking gaffes, and 4th quarter chokes than any other franchise.

More from Titans News

This trend reared its ugly head in 2017 when the Chargers lost key contributors such as OG Forrest Lamp, LB Denzel Perryman, WR Mike Williams, and CB Jason Verrett for long periods of time. Furthermore, the team continued to struggle finding a reliable kicker as Nick Rose, Younghoe Koo, Nick Novak, and Travis Coons all failed to nail down the spot. After the team lost their first four regular season contests, people were ready to write off the Chargers, who had been a middling team for several seasons. However, HC Anthony Lynn, as well as his coordinators Gus Bradley and Ken Whisenhunt (Sorry, but it’s true), deserve a ton of credit for preventing this team from quitting on itself.

The Chargers came roaring back to win nine of their next twelve and only lost out on a playoff spot as a result of tiebreakers. Phillip Rivers conducted the league’s top passing attack, proving that he can still elevate on offense at age 36 with over 4500 yards passing and a stellar 28:10 touchdown to interception ratio. The Chargers had a surplus of talent at the skill positions including workhorse RB Melvin Gordon, who topped 1100 yards rushing, one of the league’s top receivers (when healthy) in Keenan Allen, above average complementary receivers in Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, and a young star at TE in Hunter Henry.

Despite the heartbreaking news of Hunter Henry tearing his ACL in OTAs, the Chargers offense should be one of the most explosive in the league next season. 2017 first rounder Mike Williams lost his rookie season as a result of injuries, but he returns to the fold in a receiver room that is crowded with talent. Melvin Gordon returns to take handoffs from Phillip Rivers, who is coming off of one of his best seasons as a pro. The offensive line also figures to get a huge boost from 2017 second round pick Forrest Lamp, as well as free agent center Mike Pouncey, a surprising release until you consider that it was the Miami Dolphins who released him. If LA can figure out a solution at the TE position, this offense will become even deadlier.

Meanwhile on defense, the Chargers fielded one of the league’s top passing defenses, while simultaneously sporting the 31st run defense. A secondary that boasts premium talents like Casey Hayward and rookie standout Desmond King, alongside the fearsome edge-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, makes it difficult for opposing passers to succeed in the face of unrelenting pressure and sticky coverage. Fortunately for their opponents, the Chargers struggled to stop the run with a number of average or inconsistent players at LB and DT.

More from Titan Sized

In an effort to rectify this issue, the Chargers invested their first four draft picks on defense to try to add talent, athleticism, and speed to the defense. The Chargers were likely thanking their lucky stars on draft night when arguably the draft’s top DB, Derwin James, fell out of the top 15. His range, tackling ability, and coverage skills allow him to be everywhere on the field and excel at anything the coaching staff asks him to do.

Second round pick Uchenna Nwosu also displayed freaky athleticism at USC, but is considerably more raw than James and will face an uphill battle in training camp to beat out incumbents like Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown. DT Justin Jones and S Kyzir White could also play important roles as rotational players for this defense, but simply from looking at the team’s additions in the draft and free agency, it’s difficult to say that their run defense has improved vastly from where it was last season.

Their Week 7 matchup pits them against another contending AFC team in the Tennessee Titans. I anticipate this to be one of the most entertaining games of the week, if not the season. This game can easily turn into a shootout if the Chargers offense clicks on all cylinders this season. A new and exciting Titans offense implemented by new OC Matt LaFleur should really begin coming into its own by Week 7, which could run up the score even further.

I believe this game will come down to the Chargers run defense. Until they prove otherwise, it just doesn’t seem like they have done enough to vastly improve against opposing rushing attacks. The Titans have the line, the backs, the mobile quarterback, and the offensive mind necessary to exploit this weakness and set the tempo in this contest. If the Titans can get their run game rolling, they will control the clock and keep Phillip Rivers and Co. off the field, which should be enough to give them an impressive AFC victory in Week 7.

Predicted Outcome:  Win

Current Predicted Record (Updated Each Installment): 5-2

Next: Earl Thomas Trade Could Affect Titans