Tennessee Titans vs. San Diego Chargers: Matchups to Watch
Titans players vs. their biological clocks
It’s an old thought process in football that teams traveling cross-country tend to struggle because their biological clocks are thrown off. If you’ve ever gone on vacation to different time zones, you’ll know that it does affect you. What would be a 12:00 pm game for Titans players on Sunday will now feel like a 10:00 am game. The Titans have avoided these types of games over the past two years, but in 2013 they went 1-2 in those games. Not a huge sample size, but it’s worth monitoring how quickly the Titans can get started on Sunday. The extra rest from the week before should help.
Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin vs. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa
News of Chargers linebackers Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman being out this week was a huge relief to every Titans related persons’ ears. The Titans run game should be able to dominate and Delanie Walker could have more room to operate. The loss of those two linebackers also puts more on the plates of Ingram and Bosa, who have been one of the best defensive end duos in the league over the past few weeks. Their emergence has resulted in the Chargers only allowing 19.3 points per game over the last three weeks after giving up 28.4 through the first five weeks. But with Brown and Perryman out, they will be needed to contain Mariota in the pocket more often now.
Lewan and Conklin have arguably been the best offensive tackle combo in the entire NFL this season. Their work in both the passing and running game has been essential for the Titans success on offense. But this might be their toughest test to date. Both Ingram and Bosa have diverse skillsets that can leave offensive tackles guessing. Lewan and Conklin need to move back Ingram and Bosa in the running game and stall their pass rushes in order for the Titans offense to operate with the efficiency they have over the past month.
Titans linebackers/safeties vs. Chargers tight ends
It’s no mystery that the Titans can’t cover tight ends. An opposing tight end has gone over 50 yards in all but two games and three have scored touchdowns. The struggles date back to last season. Two weeks ago both Jack Doyle and Erik Swoope combined for 11 catches and 129 yards against the Titans. This week, the Titans square off against ancient Antonio Gates and young Hunter Henry. While Gates is on the downswing of his career and Henry on the upswing, both have been effective this season.
Henry has 340 yards on 22 catches and three touchdowns on the season. Gates has gone for 117 yards on 15 catches with two touchdowns in the four weeks since returning from an early-season injury. Both tight ends are used heavily and will be needed massively in this game. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin is expected to miss this game and Tyrell Williams has been very limited this week in practice with a knee injury. Though Williams said he’ll play on Sunday, it’s fair to wonder how effective he’ll be. Both Henry, who’s dealing with a knee injury himself, and Gates will be used frequently on Sunday. The Titans need to contain them in order to limit the Chargers offense.