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Titans Week 15 Enemy Profile: Saquon Barkley

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans are 2-0 against the NFC East, and with their season on the line they travel to MetLife Stadium to face a Giants team that has won four of its last five games.

The most watchable player on this Giants team has easily been rookie running back Saquon Barkley, drafted with the second overall pick of this year’s class. That was a polarizing pick, not necessarily because Barkley can’t play, but rather many people feel running backs should not be drafted in the first round, let alone the top five, due to how replaceable the position has been in recent seasons.

With that said, Barkley is a lot of fun to watch. Through 13 games of his career Barkley has put up 1,124 rushing yards and 629 receiving yards for a combined 1,753 yards from scrimmage (second most behind Ezekiel Elliot who has 1,764) and 13 total touchdowns. I’d say Barkley is a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year, though some might say Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield wins it due to the increase in value he provides to his team.

Nevertheless, it’s obvious that Barkley will be heavily featured in Sunday’s game, and while the Titans have the 13th highest DVOA in rush defense according to Football Outsiders, shutting down Barkley will be easier said than done.

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Anyway you shake it, Barkley is one of the most complete backs in football, and he’s garnered a high level of production behind a shoddy offensive line. As you can see on the play above, Barkley often runs in Zen-like state of mind where his vision is as near flawless as you can find from a back. He shifts gears a couple of times in the blink of an eye, and his ability between the tackles in tiny gaps is sublime.

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Outside the tackles is no different. His Le’Veon Bell-esque patience, as shown here, allows him to evade the high defensive back, and then he adds a stiff arm for good measure. It’s pretty easy for a lot of backs to look really good in their rookie season these days, yet Barkley runs like he’s been in the league for five years. His footwork, burst, and technique are versatile and he never gets boring.

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Then there’s the wheels, which are just unfair. On this run, Barkley uses a phenomenal display of patience to open up a gap in the middle, then he quickly changes gears and teleports through the gap. That’s when he turns on the jets and out runs everyone like Bo Jackson. And yes, comparing Barkley’s speed to Bo should be some kind of sin, but man I can’t get enough of this run.

Other players on the Giants matter more than Saquon Barkley, but in terms of pure fun, nothing can compare. The Giants’ reliance on their superstar rookie could go against the Titans, as he’s an excellent running and receiving back with the ability to change gears at the drop of a dime and display the footwork and patience to carry his offensive line.