Coming from somewhere deep below the Earth, it’s the Titans v. Cardinals preview, sponsored by Joe’s Fruit. Good people selling good fruit.
Well Titans fans here we are, another pivotal game. This one will be against a Blaine Gabbert led offense. Seems easy right, wrong! I think this will be a difficult game for the Titans. The Cardinals have super star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a strong defense, and home field advantage. The Titans will have to play a lot better this week if they want to win.
As for injuries, it appears that Derrick Morgan will be out. Erik Walden will replace him. Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker are expected to play
The Cardinals have a pretty good defense with a lot of dynamic playmakers. I think when making the offensive game plan, the Titans will keep this in mind. Thus, I expect a very conservative approach. I think they are going to want to run the ball a ton. The Cardinals main strength is their secondary, so if they can get the running game going, then perhaps they can have some offensive success.
As I have said in the past, I would love to see Derrick Henry get the ball 20 times. I think he has the ability to break runs at any given moment, thus, with a higher volume he would have a significantly better chance at a few big plays. However, if DeMarco Murray plays the way he did last week, then I expect them to split carries. It will certainly be interesting to see how the running game goes.
As for the passing game, I think we will see a similar game plan as last week. They are going to want Marcus Mariota to throws easy passes that have a high completion rate. I do not expect them to do anything too crazy. At times Mariota has appeared shell-shocked, especially after the Steelers game. Thus, I think they are going to want to get his confidence up and limit his difficult throws. Additionally, it may be foolish to throw the ball 40 times when the Cardinals have Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson in the secondary.
Therefore, expect the boring. Lots of runs, two wide receiver routes, throws to the tight end, and a few 3rd and Mularkeys (3rd and long after running up the middle for no gain on 1st and 2nd down).
Defensively, I think the Titans have a chance to have a good game. Blaine Gabbert has been playing well, but he’s not Aaron Rodgers. Plus, Adrian Peterson has been ruled out; therefore, Larry Fitzgerald is really all that they have.
I think the Titans run defense should fair well with Peterson out. Additionally, the Titans have played really well against the run this year. Not having DaQuan Jones will hurt. But I think Austin Johnson can step up. He’s played decent at times this year.
The Titans will look to pressure Gabbert and hope to cause some mistakes. I am thinking the defensive game plan will be nearly a carbon copy of last week. However, I am praying that they do not let Gabbert throw all over them like they did with Tom Savage.
I think they should double Larry Fitzgerald, but typically they do not double anyone, so I am assuming that Logan Ryan, if he can play, will be on him, and if not they may Put LeShaun Sims on him. Similar to DeAndre Hopkins, if the Titans can just contain Fitzgerald, then they should have a solid chance at shutting the Cardinal’s offense down.
This is a strange game, I guess because the Titans rarely play the Cardinals, in fact last time they did, Vince Young was on the team, thus it is hard to predict what could happen. On paper this seems like it should be a win for the Titans, but nothing has been a given this year.
I am optimistic, but also a little worried. Arizona is not terrible, and Bruce Arians is a great coach. I expect a slow game, with maybe a few turnovers. I hope the Titans can pull it off. It would be huge if they can get a victory here.