Tennessee vs. New Orleans: Titans Preseason Week 2 Game Preview
The Titans and Saints met in 2012's preseason, and the result was a 10-6 Titans victory. Unfortunately, that win didn't exactly translate to the regular season, as the Titans finished 6-10. The Saints didn't fare much better at 7-9.
Now, both teams are entering a season of high hopes. The Saints are eager to win another Super Bowl before Drew Brees, now 35, begins his inevitable decline. The Titans, on the other hand, are coming up on a make-or-break year for fourth-year quarterback Jake Locker.
It's just the preseason, so the game is technically meaningless, but both teams will have something to prove, and both will want to look sharp coming into the game.
Tennessee Titans Week 1 Recap
The Titans did end up beating the Packers 20-16, but when you consider the fact that the Packers didn't play either Aaron Rodgers or Eddie Lacy, and that the Titans looked very sloppy in the process of winning, it doesn't instill a lot of confidence.
In the Titans' defense, the first squad played almost entirely in heavy rainfall, which made executing difficult. Still, the offense was unable to move the ball effectively, and the defense was unable to stop the run, and that is not a good way to start the season.
With the Saints hosting them under a dome, there will be no rain to cause problems this time, so we'll get to see what the new Titans team under Ken Whisenhunt does when weather isn't a big problem.
Jake Locker only attempted two passes against the Packers, so hopefully he'll see a bit more time against the Saints. The team's success this season will largely be up to Locker, so it would be reassuring to see him perform well this time around.
News and Notes
ESPN's Paul Kuharsky recently opined that Kendall Wright was the best weapon the Titans have right now, but that "prevailing wisdom" indicated he's unlikely to see as many targets as he did in 2013, though he will be used more.
Justin Hunter broke out near the end of 2013 with a string of impressive games, so targeting Wright less often may have as much to do with Hunter stepping up as it does with anything about Wright.
While Wright may be the better receiver, Hunter undoubtedly has the better physical tools. He's taller, bigger and more of a mismatch for defenses than Wright would be.
Wright saw no playing time against the Packers, and Hunter only had two balls thrown his way, one of which he caught.
Seeing how each player is utilized against the Saints could have big implications for the rest of the season.
The only player the Titans currently have listed as doubtful is Colin McCarthy. Unfortunately, McCarthy suffered a shoulder injury against the Packers in Week 1. With his already extensive injury history, I wouldn't bet on a speedy recovery.
If both Mike Martin and Antonio Johnson were to miss the game, it could cause some problems with the Titans' depth on the defensive line, but with several players capable of playing either position on the line, and with Martin listed as probable, it shouldn't be a big problem.
Injury reports via ESPN
X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
Bishop Sankey vs. Saints Defensive Line
The Saints have invested a lot in their defensive line, and it features a couple of large run-stuffers in Akiem Hicks, Cameron Jordan and Brodrick Bunkley.
Sankey showed some impressive receiving ability in Week 1, but he'll be put to the test as a runner against the Saints.
Terron Armstead vs. Jurrell Casey
The Saints' sophomore left tackle, Terron Armstead, has blistering speed, but he's still just a second-year player. Jurrell Casey has dropped weight to play defensive end, and he was without a doubt the best player on the team in 2013. If he can get around a guy like Armstead, he'll be in for another big season.
Titans' X-Factor of the Week: Kendall Wright
Kendall Wright saw no playing time in the first preseason game, and he was the best offensive weapon the Titans had in 2013. If he's improved his game coming into his third season, he could be a force.
Predicting the outcome of a preseason game is tough. First of all, the win doesn't count. While every coach wants to win every game, no one will risk injuring star players to win a meaningless scrimmage. Then you also have to account for how long each team will leave the first team on the field, then how many training camp bodies will see playing time.
Still, the Titans are coming off of a 7-9 season and haven't had a winning season since 2008, so they have a lot more to prove than the Saints, who finished 2013 at 11-5.
I expect to see the Titans come out with a chip on their shoulder not only from last week's sloppy performance, but also from the disappointing seasons of the past six years. Coach Whisenhunt also has a lot to prove in his first year as a head coach, so I'd expect him to keep the starters in for some significant time.
The Titans will end up winning, I think, because the Saints probably won't play Drew Brees for very long, if at all.
You can also expect to see quite a few field-goal attempts, as the Titans will want to start sorting out the competition between Maikon Bonani and Travis Coons.
Prediction: Titans 20, Saints 13