With all of the news surrounding the coaching change that happened on Tuesday, it's easy to forget that the Titans have a game to play on Sunday. Hopefully the team doesn't feel the same way, because they have a very tough challenge in New Orleans. While the offense has potential to win the game for the Saints on its own, there are some reasons to believe that the Titans could be competitive. A look at the matchups:
Reasons For Confidence: Marcus Mariota's return, Coaching Change, Saints' Defense
Mariota's Return: I jumped the gun a little bit in last week's game preview, talking about the effect that Marcus Mariota's return would have on the team. That being said, it appears as if he really will be able to play this Sunday. After the past two weeks, I doubt that there is anyone out there that doesn't believe that Marcus Mariota is a significant upgrade over Zach Mettenberger. Combine that with the spark provided from Mariota's return, and you may have some new found energy.
Coaching Change: This could be another spark provided to the team. We know thanks to Miami what kind of effect an interim coach can have on a team early on. A new voice with some new ideas might be able to do wonders for this team, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Look for much more simplicity, max protection for Marcus Mariota, and a physical run game with Antonio Andrews.
Saints' Defense: The Saints have a couple of talented players on their defense, but overall they can be had. Their secondary is the weak point. Just last week, the unit gave up 49 points to the giants. If the Titans want to even have a shot at winning this game, they must take exploit the Saints' main weakness.
Reasons For Concern: Heavy blitzing, Titans' secondary, Titans Wide Receivers
Heavy Blitzing: There is no doubt that Rob Ryan is going to want to put some heat on Marcus Mariota. The Titans have shown this season that they struggle with blitz pickup. Considering the offensive line's struggles in general this season, and the fact that Rob Ryan is the defensive coordinator for the Saints, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to expect some heavy blitzing early and often. While the Saints defense overall is not very talented, Cameron Jordan and Haouli Kikaha are two very good players along the Saints front seven that can wreak havoc. The offensive line must hold up.
Titans' Secondary: The Titans have been very thin at cornerback all year, and it looks worse than ever. There is a strong chance that Jason McCourty and Blidi Wreh-Wilson will not be able to play on Sunday. The Saints like the spread the ball around to a number of different weapons, so the Titans need all of the healthy defensive backs that they can get. The fact that they could be missing two of their top three should be very concerning for Titans fans.
Titans Wide Receivers: The Titans will not have their best, and some would say their only productive, wide receiver this week in Kendall Wright. This leaves the team with the incredibly raw Dorial Green-Beckham, draft bust Justin Hunter, extremely underwhelming Harry Douglas, and practice squad receiver Rico Richardson. No matter how thin the Saints' secondary is, they should not have too much trouble against this group. They will have to win more matchups individually as well, considering the Titans seem to be planning on keeping two tight ends on the line. This should only amplify the blitzing.
Prediction: The Titans are simply a worse football team than the Saints almost across the board. Combine that with injuries, and we may have a blowout on our hands. Under Mike Mularkey the team should improve a little bit over time this season, but it will not be on Sunday. New Orleans wins big, 30-13.