We are finally about to see some football that counts. The Titans finished up their (dreadful) preseason with plenty of question marks remaining. They have no choice now but to figure things out on the fly. They don’t get an easy first task either. The Oakland Raiders are coming to town, looking to build off of their playoff appearance last season.
Both the Titans and the Raiders have received plenty of hype from media outlets this summer, so this is a pretty big opener for both sides. Here are four potential x-factors that could decide the fate of this game.
WR Corey Davis
We’ve yet to see Davis hit the field yet for the Titans, so it’s hard to know what to expect. From Mike Mularkey’s comments, he’s not quite 100 percent just yet. He’s probably going to be eased into the playbook too. Davis might not get a huge number of snaps, but the Raiders have no idea what is coming at them from the Titans receivers. We have yet to see Davis, Decker and Matthews play together. That may turn out to be a good thing for the Titans, against an Oakland secondary that can be beaten. Davis ran with the first team early on in camp before injuring his hamstring. He appeared to be figuring things out quickly, so he’s definitely one to watch on Sunday.
CBs LeShaun Sims and Adoree Jackson
If there’s one main thing Titans fans should worry about Sunday, it’s these two young corners. The Titans struggled all of last year in this area, but have two new additions this time around in Jackson and Logan Ryan. This group struggled once again in the preseason. With Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Derek Carr coming to town, the Titans better figure some things out quickly. I think the play of Jackson and Sims specifically may determine the entire outcome of this matchup.
LB Jayon Brown
Let’s be honest. The Titans’ preseason was not any fun. There weren’t too many bright spots, the team was flat and some big time players missed out due to injury. Maybe the one constant good of the preseason for the Titans was Jayon Brown. The rookie linebacker out of UCLA looked outstanding in coverage and diagnosis. He’s going to be the third inside linebacker for the defense, but he’s still set to play quite a bit on passing downs. I’m interested to see exactly how they utilize him, but he should be a huge help covering running backs and tight ends in the middle of the field.
OT Jack Conklin
The 2nd year tackle took home NFL All-Pro honors in his first season as a Tennessee Titan. Now it’s time to backup that status. Conklin will spend much of his day trying to neutralize one of the NFL’s best players, Khalil Mack. Conklin did a nice job on Mack last season, not giving up a sack and really minimizing his impact. Whether or not Conklin can replicate this performance and keep pressure out of the face of Marcus Mariota will go a long way in determining a winner here.