That win last week was ever so satisfying. The Titans owed that team a punch in the mouth for many reasons. Also, I think that it was a nice way for the team to start developing its identity. As they say, you don't truly know your team until about Mid-October. However, it seems as if the unanimous sentiment throughout the locker room almost immediately after that win was that it's time to move on to Seattle. This is a big game. It reminds me a lot of last November when Green Bay came to town. One of the upper echelon, Super Bowl winning teams is coming into Nashville, and for the Titans to get where they want to be, they need to make a statement against them. I expect Mike Mularkey to have this team up and ready to go. This has been an exciting matchup that I've had circled since April. Now let's roll:
Reasons For Confidence: Pass Rush, Run Game, Home & Early
Pass Rush: The Titans' pass rush is going to need to get after it on Sunday. Seattle's offensive line has been the team's weakpoint so far this season, and the Titans will need to take advantage. So far this season, Seattle's offense has not been very productive, because with teams being able to disrupt without blitzing and disguising, it's easier to drop more guys back and cover their wide receivers. This is where the likes of Casey, Morgan and Orakpo will come in. They were fantastic last week, and will need a similar outing this Sunday. Russell Wilson is a natural playmaker, and is one of the best at making chicken salad. If the Titans are able to generate pressure and prevent these opportunities from even presenting themselves, the defense should be able to control the game. Expect a defensive battle between both teams on Sunday.
Run Game: According to Football Outsiders, through 2 games, the Titans offensive line is ranked 2nd in terms of run blocking DVOA. In contrast, Seahawks' defensive line is ranked 27nd in terms of run defense DVOA. In other words, it sounds like a Derrick Henry/Demarco Murray-filled day could be coming. The Titans are going to want to control this game through their defense, and run game. When you look at the matchups on paper, it seems very possible.
Home & Early: As I said, this is a game that I've had circled since April. Over the years, I have come to realize that if you have to play Seattle, there is no better time/place to play them than at home in the first 3 weeks of the season--ESPECIALLY if your team has a pass rush. Look at the team formerly known as the St. Louis Rams. It seemed like at the beginning of every season, they would beat Seattle at home without scoring a touchdown, and it would all but guarantee Jeff Fisher another year of job security. I'm obviously not saying because of the circumstances that any team would get an auto-win--this will be a very tough game--but my point is that if your team has to play Seattle, historically, this may be one of the best times you could get them.
Reasons For Concern: Pass Rush, Russell Wilson, Run Defense
Pass Rush: Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Sheldon Richardson, Cliff Avril. Need I say more? This is a nasty defensive front, and that doesn't even include linebackers, like Bobby Wagner. The Titans' offensive line had a good game against a talented front in Jacksonville, but this is a whole new ball game. This will be their toughest challenge yet. On both sides, these teams are going to want to run the ball effectively, and control the game on defense. That will be the name of the game on Sunday. The Titans' offensive line's ability to handle this defensive front will go a long way towards deciding who will win this game.
Russell Wilson: As I said before, Russell Wilson is one of the best at making something out of nothing. Even if the Titans' defensive line is able to be disruptive, containing Russell Wilson is a completely separate issue. A modern day Fran Tarkenton, Wilson is one of those players who can completely change a game by himself. Only he could keep this offense afloat with an offensive line like he has, and it is because of his incredible playmaking ability. Dick Lebeau will need to have a good plan ready.
Run Defense: I mentioned earlier that the Seahawks' defensive line was ranked 27th in terms of run defense DVOA. Well, guess who is ranked 28th? The Titans. For the third week in a row, this defense will face a group of tough, physical running backs. As previously mentioned, both teams are going to want to run the ball and control the clock. If the Titans cannot stop Chris Carson et. al, any advantage that they may have had in terms of rushing the passer will go out the door. This is one of the biggest keys to the game, and we will have to hope that this defense is up to the challenge.
Prediction: Like I said, I expect Mike Mularkey to have this team up and ready to make a statement on Sunday. A game like this has potential to define the rest of the season, just like the Green Bay win last season. The Seahawks have an amazing defensive front, but after last week, my confidence in the Titans' offensive line's ability to keep things under control has increased. On the other side of the ball, I think Orakpo, Morgan, and Casey will be able to be effective. I think the Titans win in the trenches, and as a result, they win the game. TITANS WIN, 19-13!!!!!! BOOYAH!