Titans vs. Broncos: Breaking Down Tennessee's Game Plan

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Titans vs. Broncos: Breaking Down Tennessee's Game Plan
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Another tough loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday has left the Tennessee Titans in a must-win situation at the worst possible time, as the Denver Broncos are up next on the schedule.

This game offers a major opportunity for the Titans to get the statement win they've been searching for all season. An upset over the Broncos would put the Titans back firmly in the playoff hunt, but that's much easier said than done.

The Titans came close to getting statement wins earlier in the season against the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. They'll get one more chance to gain the attention of the rest of the NFL.

Perhaps the best thing the Titans have going for them in this matchup is the rough weather elements that Peyton Manning may be up against. It's been well-documented that Manning tends to struggle in cold weather and the first week of December in Denver isn't usually what you would call mild conditions.

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It may sound trivial, but the Titans have to hope for sloppy conditions in this game because there is very little hope that the Titans defense can hang with the Broncos' offensive attack in fair weather conditions.

If the flow of this matchup is forced into a ground game, then the Titans could actually have a chance to keep it close. You like the Titans' chances to keep up on the scoreboard with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene running the football in bad weather conditions.

Furthermore, the Titans absolutely have to win the turnover battle and subsequently convert those turnovers into points.

The Titans did a horrible job of converting turnovers into points against the Colts, and it was a major reason why the Titans came up just short yet again.

Alterraun Verner is quietly having a Pro Bowl season at cornerback and a Pro Bowl performance is going to be needed from him in this game. Verner is going to have his hands full against the group of talented receivers the Broncos will throw out on the field.

Eric Decker is coming off a four-touchdown performance against the Chiefs, one of the NFL's top defenses. He could easily follow that game up with another strong outing if Verner and company don't come prepared.

The Titans are ranked seventh in the NFL in pass defense, so they do have that going for them. However, that ranking is a little misleading when you look at some of the quarterbacks the Titans have faced this season.

Another major impact player for the Titans defense is Jurrell Casey, who is having a Pro Bowl-type season in his own right. Casey has been putting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks all season and he'll need to continue that against the Broncos.

There aren't many ways to make Manning look like an ordinary quarterback, but getting pressure on him inside the pocket is one of them.

If Casey can get in Manning's face consistently, then the Titans might be able to keep the Broncos under 30 points.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
These two teams last met in 2011, with the Titans coming out on top.

Another way to keep Manning contained is by simply winning the time-of-possession battle, a formula that former head coach Jeff Fisher used all the time against Manning. Unfortunately, the Titans offense has been very streaky since Ryan Fitzpatrick got under center.

There's never been a better time for Fitzpatrick to have the game of his career. He has it in him, and you just hope that he finds a way to get everything clicking.

Like many other teams right now, the Titans are limping to toward the end of the season. It will be critical that the Titans find a replacement for the injured Delanie Walker to fill in.

The loss of Walker may end up making a more negative impact than even the loss of Jake Locker. Walker does so many great things when it comes to blocking and making those intermediate catches to move the chains. It was apparent that the Titans offense was lost without him after he went down.

According to John Glennon of The Tennessean, Tennessee will be in search of replacements at tight end and fullback during the week.

Another major key in this game for the Titans is going to be red-zone efficiency. Field goals aren't going to be enough to hang with the Broncos on the scoreboard. They have to get touchdowns when they get inside Denver's 20-yard-line.

Crazier upsets have happened in the NFL, but this one would certainly rank near the top for this season if the Titans could pull it off on the road.

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