Is the Titans Defense Good Enough to Slow the Seahawks?

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 12, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16:   Derrick Morgan #91 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates his sack against the San Diego Chargers in front of Jurrell Casey #99 during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on September 16, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

To win in Week 6, the Tennessee Titans will have to beat the Seattle Seahawks at their own game. 

Pete Carroll's club owns the NFL's most intimidating defense, but Mike Munchak's team has a defensive unit certainly capable of carrying its team.

However, can the Titans defense be good enough to lead to a major upset victory? 

Let's examine.

First off, not many expected Tennessee to be 3-2 heading into this matchup—and that point is important. Because despite small strides of improvement from quarterback Jake Locker, the Titans offense has been, statistically, pretty similar to where it finished the 2012 season: 

It's exhibited slight improvement scoring the football, but the defensive production and overall efficiency have been much better:

The Titans have gotten stingier on defense due to their amazing defensive line depth and their young core collectively taking the next step in 2013. On the defensive line, Jurrell Casey is quietly becoming a superstar, and in the pass-rushing department, Derrick Morgan isn't far behind. 

Of defensive tackles who've played at least 25 percent of their respective team's snaps this season, only Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions has been rated higher by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Sep 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) runs with the ball against Tennessee Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan (91) at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

And under the same playing-time condition at the 4-3 defensive end position, only Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett have a higher overall PFF rating than Morgan, per PFF.

The linebacking corps is loaded with athleticism (see: Brown, Zach and Ayers, Akeem), and all the raw physical skill has blossomed into consistent contributions across the board. In the secondary, Alterraun Verner is PFF's top-rated cornerback, and Jason McCourty is the seventh-highest ranked. At safety, Michael Griffin and George Wilson are in PFF's top 20 through five games.

Overall, the Titans will have to be especially tight on defense playing in Seattle.

Most quarterbacks are better in front of their home crowd than when they're on the road, but check the disparity in Russell Wilson's statistics from 2012:

Ironically, Wilson's completion percentage is almost five percentage points lower at home than on the road this season, but his home QB rating is 102.5 compared to 85.1 away from home.

The Titans offense will have a hard time moving the football on a Seattle defense that ranks 11th in yards per drive, fifth in points per drive and seventh in touchdowns per drive this season. But Tennessee's rather underrated defense is good enough to slow down the Seahawks' offensive attack in a game that just may ultimately be more tightly contested than many expect.