Tennessee Titans (2-8)
Philadelphia Eagles (7-3)
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Kickoff Sunday, November 23, 12:00 PM on CBS
The stumbling 2-8 Titans travel to Philadelphia to take on the 7-3 Eagles Sunday coming off a short week. The Titans lost 27-24 on Monday Night Football to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a hard fought game that came down to the wire. The Eagles are coming off a shellacking at the hands of the Green Bay Packers 53-20.
It’s been a difficult year for the Titans as they simply aren’t a good football team. As the old adage goes you are what your record says you are and that certainly holds true for these Titans. Between blow out losses, blown leads and a run defense ranked among the worst in the league there are reasons for concern.
The major concern however is how poorly the Titans are on offense. The defense is pretty bad at times but there is reason to believe it would be improved if it wasn’t on the field so long. Particularly so for the run defense which just gets gassed and ineffective.
The Titans and Eagles defenses aren’t far apart in most categories outside of the run defense. The Titans run defense has often been at it’s worst in games where the Titans offense is struggling or time of possession has been an issue particularly in the 4th quarter. You can read this for an explanation.
In some aspects the following graph illustrates my point.
The Titans defense is susceptible to giving up the big play but offensive ineptitude has played a big factor in their losses. The Eagles offense is much more prolific and puts up so many points that the defensive issues don’t stand out as much. The Eagles average almost 30 points per game while the Titans average 16.2 points per game. The Eagles have the firepower to outgun many teams which the Titans simply lack.
The Titans poor run defense will get tested once again by the combination of Lesean McCoy and Darren Sproles who have combined for 986 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. McCoy is averaging 72.9 rushing yards this year and hasn’t come close to reaching the production many expected of him. Part of the struggles are due to offensive line issues but the line is expected to be mostly healthy and intact for this game.
Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is averaging 92.1 receiving yards per game and has 9 receiving touchdowns. That ranks him 3rd in the league in a tie with Antonio Brown, Antonio Gates, Rob Gronkowski, and Jordy Nelson. His 921 receiving yards has him ranked 7th in the league. He will likely face a healthy dose of Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.
It is rookie Jordan Matthews that might give the Titans their biggest headache. The former Vanderbilt Commodore standout, and current SEC all time leading receiver, has really broken out since Mark Sanchez took over for the injured Nick Foles. In Sanchez’s two starts, they have connected 12 times for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Matthews is the Eagles second leading receiver with 44 receptions for 558 yards and six touchdowns.
By comparison, the Titans leading receiver is tight end Delanie Walker with 36 receptions for 512 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, the Titans leading receiver doesn’t have good enough stats to beat out the Eagles second leading receiver. Walker has been cleared to play Sunday after sustaining a concussion in Week 10.
Matthews is being used primarily out of the slot and the Titans will likely use a combination of Coty Sensabaugh and George Wilson with possibly some over the top safety help (gulp). The Titans linebackers are decent in coverage with Avery Williamson and Derrick Morgan being their best options there.
The Eagles defense is giving up 263 passing yards per game and 114.7 rushing yards per game. This could be good news for a Titans offense that is only averaging 216.5 passing yards per game and 92.5 rushing yards per game. The Titans will need to get their sputtering offense going to have any chance to remain in the fight against the Eagles.
The Eagles are expected to blitz Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger a lot which is a strategy that has been effective against the rookie. Mettenberger has a 58.4 quarterback rating when blitzed which is down from his overall rating of 86.2. He also has has more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1). Opposing quarterbacks are completing 57.78% of their passes against this defense.
The Eagles secondary has struggled but so have the Titans wide receivers. It was nice to see Nate Washington get behind the Steelers secondary Monday Night for a touchdown. He does have a knack for that doesn’t he? It was Washington’s first, and only, touchdown of the year. He is likely to face former Titan Cary Williams who has given up five touchdowns this year.
Talented second year receiver Justin Hunter has been a big disappointment and hasn’t been able to take advantage against the weak secondaries the Titans faced this year. If he plays, he should face Bradley Fletcher who has given up six touchdowns this year. Hunter is questionable for this game with a knee injury.
Kendall Wright plays largely out of the slot and has four receiving touchdowns but he is averaging a paltry 47.3 receiving yards per game. He will face a lot of Brandon Boykin who has not given up a receiving touchdown this year. The Titans could opt to move Wright around to take advantage of other matchups.
Bishop Sankey was the return man on kickoffs against the Steelers and he looked quite good. We will see if the Titans opt to use him or go with regular kick returner Leon Washington. Dexter McCluster and the punt return team have been huge disappointments this year.
Other game notes:
The two teams have met each other 10 times, with the Philadelphia Eagles winning 6 games and the Tennessee Titans winning 4 games. The Eagles have never beaten the Titans since they changed their name from the Oilers and moved to Tennessee. The last time the Titans played at the Linc they won 31-13 during Vince Young’s rookie season. That game featured a punt return for a touchdown by former Titan Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Evan Washburn are your CBS broadcast team for this week’s game. Jeremy Bolger (gulp) and his team are your officiating crew for this week’s game. Vegas has the Eagles -11 and they are 4-1 ATS at home this year per Linemakers.
The Eagles are relatively healthy while the Titans secondary is banged up. You can find Thursday’s injury report here. Defensive back Marqueston Huff is unlikely to play while Blidi Wreh-Wilson looks to be questionable for the game.
Friday’s injury report has been released and Justin Hunter, Derrick Morgan, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are questionable for the game. Marqueston Huff has officially been listed as doubtful but do not look for him to play.
Final score prediction:
Jordan Matthews photo courtesy of Philly.com