Titans at Giants: What to watch

Friday, December 14, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 50

Titans at Giants

Sunday, Dec. 16, Noon

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

See if the Giants want to play. The Titans overcame a slow start vs. the Jets and then gave the Jaguars a knockout blow early last week. The Giants have improved in recent weeks, and had they done so about two games earlier they would be in the thick of the NFC playoff chase, and maybe even in the NFC East race. As it is, they are teetering on the brink of elimination. If the Titans can start fast and get a quick lead, will the Giants have much interest in playing for four quarters?

Get Derrick Henry going. No expects Henry to follow up with another 200-yard game, but it is December, and the running game usually re-emerges as a factor late in the year. If Henry can even give the Titans a third of the 238 he had against the Jaguars, it could be enough to keep the chains moving and keep the offense going.

Don’t let Barkley get going. The Giants’ offense will lean on rookie running back Saquan Barkley, especially with Odell Beckham’s status uncertain. Beckham was inactive last Sunday with a quadriceps injury. The Titans cannot let Barkley break off big runs.

Matchups to watch

Titans receivers vs. Giants secondary. The Giants’ secondary features two Titans castoffs in the starting lineup: Curtis Riley paying free safety and B.W. Webb at cornerback. The Titans will be without tight end Jonnu Smith, whose snaps will likely go to Anthony Firkser. Receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor have stepped it up in recent weeks and need to continue to give Marcus Mariota a reliable target to throw to.

Titans LB Wesley Woodyard vs. Barkley. Barkley has been as advertised for the Giants, who chose him second overall in this year’s draft. Woodyard is the heart and soul of the Titans defense, not only making his share of tackles but making sure the defense is lined up correctly. The Titans need to slow Barkley and put the game on the shoulders of QB Eli Manning, who appears to be on the backside of his career.