The Tennessee Titans (0-1) will make their 2023 regular-season home debut against the Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) at Nissan Stadium on Sunday. Both squads will be attempting to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. Historically speaking, teams that start 0-2 have an 11% chance of qualifying for the postseason. The Titans and Chargers have key players that will help determine the outcome, although both teams are already nursing crucial injuries. We’ve identified three key matchups.
HAROLD LANDRY VS. TREY PIPKINS
Arden Key generated a league-high 11 pressures in Week 1, according to Next Gen Stats. Key spent the majority of his time lining up across from left tackle Trevor Penning. I believe we’ll see a similar strategy that pits Key up against elite Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater. That would allow Harold Landry to potentially expose the weaker of their two tackles, Trey Pipkins.
Landry looked rusty throughout his first game back since suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2022. Landry only accounted for two pressures and one hurry, according to Pro Football Focus. Pipkins was outstanding in Week 1, having posted a 91% run-block win rate, per ESPN Stats & Info. The Chargers as a whole posted a 61% pass-block win rate, which ranked 12th in the league. Landry will need to bring his best versus Pipkins.
Arden Key generated a league-high 11 pressures in his @Titans debut, four more than any other player league-wide in Week 1.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 12, 2023
The Titans signed Key this offseason just a few months after Key recorded 9 pressures in Week 18 against Tennessee, his previous career-high.#Titans pic.twitter.com/2TVZFFlTC1
KEENAN ALLEN VS. SEAN MURPHY-BUNTING
No. 1 Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton is trending on the wrong side of questionable with yet another hamstring injury. His absence could thrust Sean Murphy-Bunting into a starring role. Even if Fulton plays, Murphy-Bunting should earn the assignment of covering Keenan Allen.
Allen was his usual reliable self last weekend, having recorded six receptions for 76 receiving yards. Allen averaged a chain-moving 12.7 yards per catch. He’s still elusive despite his advancing age. Allen gained 5.7 yards after catch per reception, via Pro Football Focus. Murphy-Bunting didn’t have the best debut as a Titan. Derek Carr enjoyed a passer rating of 144.8 when targeting Murphy-Bunting in coverage. He’ll need to be better versus the savvy Allen.
KHALIL MACK VS. CHRIS HUBBARD
Joey Bosa is questionable to play with a hamstring injury. Khalil Mack could be pitted against Chris Hubbard on the right side of Tennessee’s offensive line. Hubbard was outstanding in his debut, but he’s now tasked with putting forth a repeat performance against a savvy veteran like Mack.
Mack recorded a team-high six pressures for the Chargers last weekend, but the numbers were misleading. Tua Tagovailoa was generally comfortable in the pocket. Meanwhile Hubbard posted a league-leading 23 pass-pro wins for a perfect pass-block-win-rate of 100%.