One Tennessee Titans who will be more important than you think in Week 1

Tennessee Titans Training Camp
Tennessee Titans Training Camp / Silas Walker/GettyImages

The Tennessee Titans are on the road for Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, and there are a few streaks that Mike Vrabel is looking to break.

Not only have Vrabel and the Titans lost seven straight games, but they have also lost back-to-back season openers.

One of the most promising things about the start of Mike Vrabel's coaching career was that he did a great job winning whenever he had extra time to prepare for opponents. Lately, that hasn't been the case with the Tennessee Titans going 1-3 in those situations last year.

Now they have to travel to face the New Orleans Saints, and if the Tennessee Titans are going to change the narrative about the team then they need to start by winning in Week 1 to get some momentum heading into a brutal stretch to start the season.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Tennessee Titans' chances, but one of the things that isn't being talked about enough is how close Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders were to beating the Titans last season.

Going back and watching that game, Carr started out nearly perfectly. On his first two drives, Carr completed 9 of his 10 passes with a touchdown and a DPI call. On those methodical drives to start the game, the Raiders offense ended up with 10 points and they did it effortlessly.

The strange thing is that when you look back at that performance, Derek Carr wasn't torching the Tennessee Titans' defense with Davante Adams or Darren Waller, it was Mack Hollins who burning the secondary.

That is why even though the Saints' defense is ferocious, the key to this game is stopping Derek Carr and the second-best receiver, Michael Thomas.

The Tennessee Titans defender that can stop Derek Carr and Michael Thomas

Something to keep in mind for that game is that the Tennessee Titans were forced to move some pieces around on defense because of injuries in the secondary. That meant that the player responsible for Mack Hollins was usually either Roger McCreary (who was still trying to adjust to the NFL) or Terrance Mitchell.

This year the man responsible for the boundary cornerback job opposite Kristian Fulton is Sean Murphy-Bunting.

The last time that Michael Thomas played any semblance of a season was in 2020, and that year he and Sean Murphy-Bunting actually played against each other three times. In those games, SMB did a nice job against the All-Pro allowing just two catches combined in all three matchups while taking the ball away in the playoffs.

It has been three years since those three matchups and Thomas has really struggled to stay anywhere close to healthy or those years. Now 30 years old and likely far removed from the prime of his career, it should be fair to ask SMB to make Thomas earn every catch on Sunday.

If the Tennessee Titans can have a game where the "other" guy doesn't rip them to shreds like they did in 2022, then I like their chances in what should be a tight game on the road.