Last week's win was huge for the Titans. Gaining confidence that they can find a way to find, even when things are tough is an intangible that works wonders for football teams. This time last year, the Titans were finding ways to collapse down the stretch each week. To see the Titans grind one out was very encouraging. Now, the Titans have another big contest:
Reasons For Confidence: Raiders' Defense, Titans Adjustments, Delanie Walker
Raiders' Defense: This week, it has been much publicized about how much the Raiders' defense has struggled thus far. The Saints and Falcons absolutely lit them up through the air. They are missing their best defensive lineman in Mario Edwards, and the secondary has been having trouble communicating. The Titans seemed to have been getting their groove back at the end of the Lions game, and hopefully they capitalize by following the trends of Atlanta and New Orleans.
Titans Adjustments: Again, the Titans looked to be finding their niche on offense towards the end of the Lions game. In the 4th quarter Mariota and the offense as a whole looked much more comfortable. The "exotic" element seems to have been largely deleted from the playbook. While the Titans will still show unique looks, they are learning not to go overboard. Quick and effective passes seemed to be the primary approach last week, and it was a perfect complement to the run game. Offensive productivity seems to be increasing, and with Oakland coming to town, the Titans could rally be hitting their stride.
Delanie Walker: Last week, Delanie Walker made up for is invisible performance in week 1. He had a favorable matchup, and the Titans schemed for him in order to set him up for success. This week, I would be very surprised if we didn't see more of the same. The Raiders may have even more problems than Detroit does when it comes to covering the tight end. Linebacker Ben Heeney is a huge weak spot on the defense, who has been repeatedly targeted. Oakland's safeties Keith McGill and Reggie Nelson have had trouble with communication and being in the right place. This is sets up for another big day for Delanie Walker.
Reasons For Concern: Khalil Mack, Raiders' Offensive Line, Raiders' Weapons
Khalil Mack: While the Raiders' defense has struggled mightily so far this season, Khalil Mack is still a game wrecker. Atlanta did a good job last week of scheming away from Mack and taking him out of the game as much as possible, and the Titans need to do the same. Giving the tackles help and keeping Mariota on the move will take Mack out of the game, and the Titans can take advantage of some of the weak spots in that defense.
Raiders' Offensive Line: This unit is full of maulers, starting with free agent pickup Kelechi Osemele. This is a nasty bunch that will keep Derek Carr upright and pave the way for an effective run game. While the Titans' pass rush looked much better against Detroit, there are still concerns. This week, they will face a much better unit. They need to be gap sound, scheme pressure, and guys need to win individual matchups if they want to avoid having a long day on defense.
Raiders' Weapons: Like last week, the Titans defense will face a diverse offense with a lot of weapons. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Clive Walford are all different kinds of threats through the air. On the ground, Latavius Murray and Deandre Washington bring a thunder and lightning effect to the offense. This offense has a lot of very talented players that bring a lot of unique skillsets to the table. The Titans defense has a big challenge on their hands.
Prediction: I am expecting a high scoring game in Nashville this weekend. The Titans should definitely have the upper hand on offense, so it is going to come to how well the defense can hold it together. They will need to win at the line of scrimmage, or else they will get torn apart by Oakland's weapons. Unfortunately, I think that Oakland's offense slightly edges out Tennessee's. Raiders win, 31-30.