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VOL. 42 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 28, 2018

Eagles at Titans: What to watch

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Eagles at Titans

Sunday, Sept. 30, Noon

TV: FOX (WZTV)

Radio: 104.5 FM

After two improbable division wins with a short-handed team – especially on offense – the Titans have to feel like they are playing with house money going into Week 4. The next challenge doesn’t get any easier as the world champion Philadelphia Eagles (Eight months after the Super Bowl, it still seems strange to type that) come to town. Here are some keys for the Titans in what will likely be another uphill challenge.

Domination on defense

The Titans defense has risen to the occasion the past two weeks, controlling the line of scrimmage. Jurrell Casey in particular has been disruptive along the defensive front, and the Titans linebackers – particularly Wesley Woodyard, Jayon Brown, Derrick Morgan and rookie Harold Landry – have been very active. The stakes get even higher this week against Carson Wentz.

Winning special teams

The Titans not only have been getting good work from kicker Ryan Succop and punter Brett Kern, as usual, but the coverage and return units have been a big reason why the Titans have had unexpected success. The hidden yards (good returns negated by penalties) have worked to their advantage, as they have kept mistakes to a minimum – a far cry from years past when special teams were often a liability.

The Marcus Mariota factor

Mariota certainly was less than 100 percent with his tingly throwing hand, but he came off the bench to lead the Titans past the Jaguars last week. The key in the past two games has been no turnovers. But even Mariota at 70 or 80 percent provided a needed spark for the offense. If he can use his legs and throw enough to keep the Eagles honest, the Titans can maybe hang in and again have a chance for the upset.

Key matchups

Taylor Lewan vs Derek Barnett

For the second week in a row, a local product could play a big role against the Titans. Last week it was Jalen Ramsey. On Sunday, Eagles pass rusher Derek Barnett comes calling against his hometown team. Lewan and the offensive line were OK against Jacksonville, but still have room for improvements.

Carson Wentz. vs. Jurrell Casey

Casey has been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks with three sacks in three games thus far. With Wentz in just his second game back from ACL surgery last year, he has less than his normal mobility. That said, if the Eagles protect him, he is more than capable of burning the Titans defense with big pass plays.

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