Titans-Eagles Preview

BY foxsports • November 19, 2014

A debacle the last time he faced the Tennessee Titans surely left some wondering if Mark Sanchez would ever start another NFL game.

Well, he's getting another crack at the Titans on Sunday as part of his second chance with the Philadelphia Eagles, but Sanchez again is looking to pick up the pieces from an ugly loss.

It seems the Eagles (7-3) have a good shot to bounce back from last Sunday's 53-20 defeat at Green Bay as they return to Lincoln Financial Field. They've won nine consecutive regular-season home games - their longest streak since the early 1990s - and are 15-2 against teams .500 or worse under coach Chip Kelly, including 6-0 this year.

"If it was a situation in that Green Bay game where we literally just couldn't compete, like we knew we can't fix these mistakes, we're just doomed, then we'd be worried," Sanchez said. "But all that stuff is fixable. I'm really confident in the system, I'm confident in Chip and all of us just wanna get back out on the field."

Tennessee (2-8), meanwhile, is trying to avoid losing five straight for the first time since 2010 behind rookie sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger, making his fourth NFL start. The Titans have been particularly bad during a four-game road losing streak, getting outscored 114-48 and being held to an average of 258.3 yards.

They weren't much better entering their last matchup against Sanchez with a 4-9 record in Week 15 of 2012, but they eliminated his New York Jets from playoff contention with a 14-10 win. He threw four interceptions and fumbled a snap on the final possession, and he'd get only one more start with New York before being released in March after missing last season with a torn labrum.

A quarterback injury this year turned out to benefit him, and maybe the Eagles, when the struggling Nick Foles broke his clavicle Nov. 2 at Houston.

Sanchez had two touchdown passes in relief to win that day and two more the following week in a terrific starting debut with Philadelphia, throwing for 332 yards without an interception in a 45-21 rout of Carolina. His 346 yards last week marked the second-best total of his career, but he lost two fumbles and the last of his two interceptions was returned for a touchdown that put the Eagles in a 39-6 hole in the third quarter.

"We're so close to really breaking this thing open," Sanchez said of the offense. "We've shown flashes of it. We just haven't done it probably as consistently as we'd like. We'll clean those things up and hopefully hit our stride."

Jordan Matthews certainly has. Since Sanchez took over, the duo has hooked up 14 times for 280 yards and four touchdowns in 11 quarters. Matthews is looking to become the first Eagles rookie receiver to post three straight 100-yard games.

Jeremy Maclin keeps performing at a high level, sitting 79 shy of his first 1,000-yard season and one TD from his career high of 10.

LeSean McCoy, on the other hand, hasn't really gotten going. The NFL's top rusher a season ago with 1,607 yards, McCoy is at 729 while averaging a career-worst 3.7 per carry.

"I don't know if there is one thing," Kelly said when asked how McCoy can be better. "... I think statistically there is (a drop-off from last year), but I think we're a different team. I think you've got to add everything to it. It's not just one guy."

Maybe McCoy can exploit a Titans run defense which has surrendered averages of 189.7 yards in the last three weeks. Le'Veon Bell gashed them for 204 yards Monday night as Pittsburgh rallied for a 27-24 win in Tennessee.

The Titans have had an even tougher time than Philadelphia getting the ground game going, not cracking 80 yards in five straight games as rookie Bishop Sankey has failed to break out while taking over the workload from Shonn Greene.

Mettenberger has performed respectably considering the absence of a decent rushing attack. He was 15 of 24 for 263 yards and two touchdowns Monday despite missing tight end Delanie Walker (concussion), but Tennessee was 3 of 8 on third downs and is converting a league-worst 30.0 percent.

"We're close," Mettenberger said. "We've just got to keep working."

Many Titans praised the former LSU star not only because he didn't take a sack, but because he shook off having an interception returned for a touchdown on his first pass.

"I've been saying it since day one, the kid's a savage," offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said. "... That kind of stuff will get you, and he just bounced right back and started slinging the ball. That's the kind of guy he is."

It appears Walker, who leads Tennessee with 512 receiving yards, will be cleared to return in time to face the Eagles' 28th-ranked pass defense (263.0 ypg).

However, that unit ranks second with 33 sacks and Connor Barwin has 10 1/2, including 8 1/2 in the last three home games.

The Titans have won the past four meetings after losing the first six.