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VOL. 40 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 16, 2016

Titans at Lions: What to watch

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Take care of the ball: The Titans had Sunday’s opener against the Vikings literally fall from their grasp, thanks to two lost fumbles and an interception that turned directly into 14 points for Minnesota. This week against the Lions’ high-powered offense, the Titans could get blown out of a repeat of their turnover problem arises again.

Get more pressure: Defensively the Titans held Adrian Peterson to 31 yards and the Vikings to nine points. Ordinarily, that would have been good enough to win. But there were some underlying issues on the defensive side of the ball, specifically not being able to sack Shaun Hill and not forcing any turnovers. The Titans will have more opportunities against the Lions, who are much more pass-oriented. But that also could mean more opportunities for Detroit to make big plays.

Control the game: The Titans showed that their margin for error is rather small due to a lack of explosiveness in the opener. That said, Tennessee must establish the run game much better than a week ago and win time of possession with sustained drives to help keep the Lions offense off the field and clock ticking.

Get Delanie Walker involved: Walker had just three catches for 42 yards, as the Vikings took away Marcus Mariota’s favorite target. Look for Detroit to try the same thing. Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie will have to find a way to get Walker’s big play abilities more involved in the offense and earlier in the game this week.

-- Terry McCormick

Three matchups to watch

Golden Tate vs. Jason McCourty: Tate, a local star from Pope John Paul II High School, is now the Lions’ top wideout since the retirement of Calvin Johnson in the off-season. McCourty and the Titans secondary, which gave up 103 yards receiver to Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs last Sunday, will have its hands full with Tate and the Lions receiver this week.

Haloti Ngata vs. Quinton Spain: Ngata, the former Ravens defensive tackle, isn’t Ndamukong Suh on the interior of the Lions defensive line, but he’s still a quality player. Spain, who retained his left guard spot after a challenge in training camp, could face a big challenge with a veteran like Ngata in his space along the line of scrimmage.

Marcus Mariota vs. Lions secondary: Mariota hopes to bounce back this week after a rough start in week one. The Titans have to take at least a few shots down the field against the Lions back four, something that didn’t happen in the opener, if nothing else to keep the defense honest. Mariota’s longest completion was a 29-yarder to Derrick Henry and a 26-yarder to Walker. The wide receivers have to be better for their QB on the intermediate to deep routes to lose the defense and create some rushing lanes.

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