Broncos-Titans Preview

The Tennessee Titans cruised to victory in their last game

despite allowing nearly 500 yards, one week after losing despite

holding their opponent to 127.

Yardage totals also haven’t told the whole story for Kyle Orton

and the Denver Broncos, who are struggling despite putting up big

numbers through the air.

The Broncos bring the NFL’s top-ranked pass offense to Nashville

on Sunday, but they’ll be trying to avoid their worst four-game

start in 11 years as they try to slow down Chris Johnson and the

Titans.

Tennessee (2-1) limited Pittsburgh to its lowest yardage output

since 1994 in Week 2, but seven Titans turnovers created huge

problems in a 19-11 defeat.

Although coach Jeff Fisher wasn’t pleased to see his team

outgained 471-271 by the New York Giants last Sunday, he was

certainly happier with the result, a 29-10 road victory.

“Clearly, we have to play better,” Fisher said. “But we made

plays when we needed to make plays and made different types of

plays.”

The Titans forced three turnovers at New Meadowlands Stadium in

addition to stopping the Giants’ two fourth-down attempts. New York

also had two drives end in missed field goals and another squelched

with a safety.

Tennessee has allowed two offensive touchdowns in three

games.

“This Tennessee defense, we play hard. We play physical,” safety

Michael Griffin said. “Look at the stats, they don’t look pretty.

Look at that score, it looks very nice.”

Johnson certainly helped, carrying 32 times for 125 yards and

two touchdowns. The 2009 NFL rushing leader reached triple-digit

yards again after his streak of 12 consecutive 100-yard games was

snapped against the Steelers.

Vince Young was also sharp for Tennessee, going 10 of 16 for 118

yards and a touchdown while helping the Titans avoid a turnover.

Young was replaced by Kerry Collins after throwing two

interceptions and losing a fumble in Week 2.

“I like the way Vince rebounded,” Johnson said. “He didn’t come

in with his head down, mad at the coaches. … He just came in with

a business face, working on his game.”

There has been no quarterback controversy in Denver even though

the Broncos (1-2) drafted Florida star Tim Tebow in the first round

last spring.

Orton has led the NFL’s most prolific passing attack, which is

averaging 350.0 yards, and veteran Brandon Lloyd ranks second in

the league with 339 receiving yards. Orton’s career-high 476

passing yards, though, weren’t enough to help Denver avoid a 27-13

home loss to Indianapolis last Sunday.

Denver, loser of three in a row and five of six on the road, is

looking to avert its worst start since 1999, when it began the

post-John Elway era 0-4.

“He’s been productive, certainly,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels

said of Orton. “But I tend to think about the quarterback relative

to wins and losses, third down and red zone. (Sunday), we weren’t

very good on third down or in the red zone and we lost the

game.

“That’s not a reflection solely on Kyle Orton. … I think he’s

playing well, but we have to play better in those situations that

are really going to determine the outcome of drives and ultimately

the outcome of games.”

The Broncos went 5 of 15 on third down and 1 of 4 on fourth down

against the Colts, but a dismal running game may be the bigger

problem. Denver ranks 30th in the league with 67.0 rushing yards a

contest and last with 2.5 yards per carry.

Starting running back Knowshon Moreno missed last weekend’s game

with a hamstring injury, but he wasn’t doing much better, averaging

2.8 yards on 39 carries in the first two games.

“The good thing is we’re not going backward. We had one

minus-(yardage) carry (last Sunday),” McDaniels said. “Once we

start finishing runs as well as we start them, our running game

will be much improved.”

One positive for the Broncos last week was their run defense, as

they held the Colts to 40 yards on 22 carries. They’ll need to be

sharp again against the rush if they hope to contain Johnson.

The Broncos have only opposed Tennessee twice since the

franchise’s move from Houston in 1997, winning both meetings, the

most recent in 2007.

Orton will be operating against a depleted Titans secondary

after starting cornerback Jason McCourty injured his arm last

weekend. Rookie Alterraun Verner will start in his place.