There is only one word to describe the outcome of the Tennessee Titans at the Arizona Cardinals game last week. That word is disappointing. The loss dropped the then AFC South-leading Titans into second place in the division and into a wild-card spot. The Titans still hold the keys to their destiny and the playoffs thanks to a season-ending tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not to get ahead of myself here though. The San Francisco 49er’s will be the opponent this week.
On the outside, the 8-5 Titans should have an easy time with the 3-10 49er’s but we all know that’s not the way things work in the NFL. In the last month, the Titans have two wins sandwiched in between losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. The 49er’s, on the other hand, have won three of four including the last two started by new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco was already playing better before he took over and Garoppolo has been everything we thought he’d be when given the chance to play. The Titans will need to be efficient with the football and take advantage of the scoring opportunities. Why you ask? “San Francisco is 27th in time of possession.” That’s a true statement but highly misleading. According to TeamRankings.com the past three games the 49ers have had the ball on average 34:41 seconds. That’s good enough for third in the league. It will be up to the Titan’s defense to make plays and get stops and get the offense on the field. Tennessee during the past three games has ranked 31st in that category.
Best Unit on the Field
The Titans rush defense is ranked 5th in yards allowed to opponents. Carlos Hyde is a very good running back with over 1000 yards from scrimmage rushing and receiving this year. The 49ers rushing attack is 22nd in yards gained however and the Titans could make San Francisco one dimensional. When Tennessee has the ball the 49ers rush defense is 24th against the run but that is again, misleading. The past three games San Francisco has given up 90 yards or less. They are 5th in the league in those games while the Titans 14th in those same games at running it. To win the Titans need to control the football and that won’t be easy.
Game Within the Game
Two of the best young quarterbacks matching up in a game is always interesting. The two have contrasting styles with Marcus Mariota being to more mobile of the two and willing to pull the ball down and run when the opportunity presents itself. Garoppolo is more of a pocket passer but don’t think he can’t move back there because he can. In a limited sample, Garoppolo has been impressive. Mariota has not played up to expectations so far this year but there is no time like this Sunday to change that. Here are some of the metrics.
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