What a win last week! The Titans have some newly found energy after an emotional win over New Orleans on the road. That being said, things will only get tougher with undefeated Carolina coming to town this weekend. Let's take a look at some of the key matchups:
Reasons For Confidence: Panthers' Wide Receivers, Marcus Mariota, Trap Game?
Panthers' Wide Receivers: If this well-rounded team has a weakness, its the outside threats on offense. With a number of banged up cornerbacks on the top of the depth chart, it helps to be facing a below average wide receiver group. That being said, Cam Newton's favorite target through the air is one of the best tight ends in the league in Greg Olsen, so the Titans' safeties and linebackers still have a tough matchup in front of them.
Marcus Mariota: With Marcus Mariota, I feel like the Titans are in just about any game. He hides so many deficiencies. It's difficult for my brain to even comprehend the fact that this man has only played in 6 games as a pro. He has the entire franchise on his back, and is a reason for confidence each week.
Trap Game?: The Panthers are coming off of two huge, emotional wins against two top teams in the league. It was probably a two game stretch that the team has had circled on the calendar for a while, and after putting so much work in, maybe they are in for a bit of a letdown performance on the road against a team with some new energy, coming off of a big win.
Reasons For Concern: Johnathan Stewart, Panthers' Front Seven, Cam Newton
Johnathan Stewart: Stewart is an absolute load to take on. Considering the fact that he is one of the toughest runners in the league in Mike Shula's run-heavy offense, it would be a surprise if he didn't have a lot of touches on Sunday. The Titans' defense absolutely must stress gap integrity and wrapping up this week, or Stewart will run all over them.
Panthers' Front Seven: It would be a pretty easy argument to make if you said that the Panthers have the best front seven in the NFL. Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis absolutely fly to the ball no matter what the situation is. As far as down linemen, Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short will give the interior of the Titans' makeshift offensive line all that they can handle. 0 sacks against the Saints was a start, but this is an entirely different animal. The interior of the offensive line must hold its own if the Titans want to have any shot at the upset.
Cam Newton: There is not much to say here. One of the most exciting players in the league and a legitimate MVP candidate, Cam Newton will give the Titans some trouble. The defense has had some trouble this season containing other running quarterbacks in Johnny Manziel and Tyrod Taylor. If Cam Newton gets rolling, this team could be in for a very long day.
Prediction: As you probably were able to tell, I could not find very many concrete reasons for confidence on Sunday. Even one of the reasons for confidence that was a legitimate, on the field matchup had a downside to it. The main reason for hope may be the trap game angle, but the Panthers are just an extremely talented team across the board. Panthers win, 23-13.