By Ash Thompson and Cory Hayes
The Tennessee Titans are coming off a loss to the Minnesota Vikings where their defense did not allow a single touchdown. The Lions are coming off a fourth quarter come from behind victory against a team with no defense. This has all the makings of a classic strength vs. strength match up: the Lions offense vs. the Titans defense. Let’s look at the Lions vs. Titans game preview.
Was the Titans defense that good, or is the Vikings offense just so unbalanced with Teddy Bridgewater out that the Titans could ignore the passing game with knowledge that they would not pay any significant price for doing so? The answer is likely somewhere in between the two. The Titans do have a very good defense at stopping the run, but Shaun Hill was able to find success against their secondary, and that bodes well for Matthew Stafford this week.
The Titans offense should be a run heavy enterprise, with DeMarco Murray added in the offseason, along with rookie Derrick Henry out of Alabama. Last week though, fifth round pick Tajae Sharpe was the big story, leading the team in receiving yardage with 76 in his debut. Unlike last week, the Lions are not facing a team with the personnel or the quarterback to find favorable match ups. The Titans offense relies on it’s running game and the athleticism of their second year quarterback to extend drives.
Ziggy Ansah vs. Taylor Lewan
The Lions were unable to generate any consistent pass rush last week against Andrew Luck and he picked them apart because of it. Lewan was in danger of losing his job this offseason with the Titans having shopped him in trade talks leading up to the draft and drafting Jack Conklin in the first round. Ansah needs to step up against lesser opponents in order to ascend into the national conversation of elite pass rushers and Lewan is a lesser opponent by any measure. How often Ansah hits Mariota is a key to the result in this week’s Lions vs. Titans match up.
Sam Martin vs. Marc Mariani
Mariani returns both kickoffs and punts for the Titans and Martin is both the kickoff specialist and punter for the Lions. With the Titans offense being as one dimensional as it is in terms of talent, the Titans need to win the battle of field position. If Martin can continue his Lions record breaking performance in the punting game, limiting Mariani’s ability to set the Titans up with good field position, the Titans are going to have a long day. Mariani returned five kickoffs in week one for 118 yards against the Vikings.
Riley Reiff Vs. DaQuan Jones
The Lions are going to have to continue their week one performance running the ball and third year defensive end DaQuan Jones is the major impediment to that happening. This won’t be easy for the Lions considering the Titans held Adrian Peterson to just 31 yards on 19 carries. However, Reiff and the rest of the offensive line will be helped by the fact that the Detroit Lions quarterback is not Shaun Hill. The Titans won’t be able to load the box and key in on the run. This should give the Lions more room to run. In addition to that, Riley Reiff played very well in week 1.
Detroit Lions Vs. Tennessee Titans
The Detroit Lions should win this game. The Titans defense looked stout in week 1, but against a one dimensional offense. The Lions will be able to move the ball vertically, which will help create room in the running game. The defense should have a better day, although the Titans have talented backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the wide receivers are less talented than the group of receivers the Lions faced week 1. Detroit Lions 28 Tennessee Titans 17.