Titans vs. Panthers: What’s different since last meeting in 2015?

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 19: Delanie Walker
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 19: Delanie Walker /
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The Defense

Carolina’s defense was one of the best in the NFL in 2015 and featured Pro Bowl players at each level. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis finished the year with a combined 223 tackles and 15 tackles for loss, and were each voted to the NFL All-Pro team by the end of the year.

Speaking of All-Pro players, the Panthers were starting a breakout player at cornerback in Josh Norman, who had been dominating the league after being somewhat of an unknown player before the year began. He was also voted to the 2015 All-Pro team after a great year for Carolina.

The Panthers’ defensive line was also stacked with talent that season. Defensive tackle Kawann Short lead Carolina on the year in sacks and tackles for loss, with 11 and 16, respectively. Short was joined by players like Mario Addison, Jared Allen, and Kony Ealy to form a defensive front that led the NFL in sacks.

Despite not having as many high-profile players as the dominant Carolina squad in 2015, the Titans still had talent on that side of the ball and ranked towards the middle of the pack in total yards allowed per game at 12th in the league.

Tennessee was helped by a strong pass-rush led by free agent signing Brian Orakpo and two Titans draft picks in Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey. The trio combined for 18.5 sacks on the year, an effort that earned Casey a spot on the 2015 Pro Bowl team, the teams only defensive Pro Bowl player that year.

The team’s starters at cornerback for most the year were Perrish Cox and Coty Sensabaugh, who were helped by solid safety play from Michael Griffin and Da’Norris Searcy to form a pass defense that ranked in the top 10 in passing yards allowed per game.

Where the Titans defense struggled was in letting their opponents score. By the end of 2015, the Titans were 27th in the NFL in points allowed per game, despite giving up the 12th-fewest yards.

None of the Titans defensive numbers were especially dominant compared to the NFL’s best, and the team struggled in their scoring defense. That, coupled with an offense that couldn’t find much success of their own, made for a rough season for Tennessee. Carolina, on the other hand, had a top-five defense that was able to bail their offense out whenever necessary.