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Week 2 Preview: Tennessee at Detroit

The Detroit Lions (1-0) opened up the 2016 season on the road with win over the Colts (0-1) 39-35. Detroit hosts the Tennessee Titans (0-1) at 1 PM ET on FOX. The Titans were the worst team in the NFL last year but have some hope with a new GM, new head coach, two new running backs, 2nd year franchise QB Marcus Mariota and many other young rookie additions. However, the Vikings top 5 defense took apart the Titans in Week 1 holding them to 16 points (with 6 in garbage) and forcing two defensive turnovers for defensive touchdowns. Detroit hopes to have the same defensive success as the Vikings did in Week 1 against Marcus Mariota while continuing their offensive scoring rampage.

Lions Passing attack

Matt Stafford looked great in Week 1 (128 QB rating) but the Colts were missing some secondary players (Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, Patrick Robinson (50% of game) and TJ Green (60% of game)). Stafford hopes to repeat that performance over 300 yards, almost 80% completion and 3 TDs against the Titans 3-4 defense.

Detroit has a plethora of weapons with Marvin Jones (85 yards), Golden Tate, Eric Ebron (46 yards and TD), Anquan Boldin (35 yards with clutch first downs), Theo Riddick (63 yards and TD) and Ameer Abdullah (57 yards and TD).

The Titans counter with Jason McCourty, Perrish Cox and Brice McCain (nickel) at corner. Da’Norris Searcy and former Cardinal Rashad Johnson is actually a solid safety combination. The Titans coverage was good in Week 1 but did allow a big day from Stefan Diggs (107 yards) and the Vikings to attempt six field goals despite stud run defense in Nashville (1.6 YPC for Peterson).

Detroit should have the advantage over the Titans LBs and secondary. If Stafford has time, expect another big day.

Lions QB Protection

The Lions allowed 35% in 2015 but that was much improved with Cooter’s quick strike attack. The Lions only allowed 19% pressure and 1 sack in Week 1 against the Colts. The Titans have some decent pass rushers that could test the Lions more than the Colts did.

Derrick Morgan (4.5 sacks) and Brian Orakpo (7 sacks) should provide decent pressure from the OLB spot. Jurrel Casey is a beast from the 3-4 DE spot with 7 sacks and high pressure forced in 2015. Al Woods (NT) and Daquan Jones (DE) don’t offer much rush from the rest of the defensive line but Wesley Woodyard is a savvy blister from the ILB spot (5 sacks in 2015). Dick Lebeau is a very good DC and should get the most out of the Titans defense and pass rush. The Lions offensive line must repeat their performance from Week 1.

Lions Run Game

Tennessee was 8th in the league allowing only 3.9 YPC in 2015 and shut down the Vikings strong run game in Week 1. Detroit was successful with both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick against the Colts and Abdullah finished with 4.7 YPC in the second half of last season with Cooter.  Detroit had 4.8 YPC with 116 yards in Week 1 and will want that efficiency again. The Titans will be a really good test in run defense and Detroit must block Jurrel Casey somehow.

Lions Pass Rush

The Titans revamped their offensive line with Taylor Lewan at left tackle (1st round pick 2014) and rookie Jack Conklin (1st round pick 2016) at right tackle. Ben Jones was added in free agency from Houston at center. Chance Warmack is a former first round pick at right guard and Quinton Spain is an unknown left guard that did well in camp for the Titans.  Mariota was pressured often in Week 1 though and the Vikings forced two big turnovers of Mariota for defensive TDs.

Detroit will look to mimic that Viking success. Detroit started strong on the first 3 drives in Week 1 with pressure against the Colts. Kerry Hyder had 2 sacks but then the Lions pass rush disappeared. Ziggy Ansah (14.5 sacks), Devin Taylor (7 sacks), Haloti Ngata and Tyurnn Walker must have more success against the Titans with rushing four. The Lions will be at Ford Field which should help with crowd noise.

Lions Run Defense

The Titans hope to be much stronger running the football with the additions of DeMarco Murray and Derrek Henry and new offensive linemen. DeMarco Murray had only 3.2 YPC in Week 1 but did have two receiving touchdowns for the Titans. Henry had 5 carries for 3 yards against Minnesota. The Titans must run the ball much better. Detroit gave up 4.3 YPC on the day to Frank Gore and the Colts (notorious struggling run team). Detroit started strong in run defense but played a little lax later in the game. We’ll see if Murray and Henry can have success in Week 2 unlike Week 1.

Lions Coverage

The Lions got torched in Week 1 by Andrew Luck after 3 good drives to start the game by Detroit. Second year QB Marcus Mariota did well in his rookie season with a 91.5 rating without much talent around him. Mariota has mobility (7.4 YPC) to avoid the pass rush and can make enough plays for the Titans. Mariota had only an 85 rating with a garbage late TD after building a 10-0 lead against Minnesota. Mariota must play better in the second half of games.

Delanie Walker was a 1,000 yard receiver at tight end last year. However, the Titans have added rookie Tajae Sharpe (5th round), veteran Andre Johnson and Rishard Matthews (FA from Dolphins at 4 per) to bolster their passing game.  Kendall Wright has had 1,000 yards for the Titans in the past out of the slot but was injured Week 1 and may miss Week 2. Tennessee traded top receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles after a solid rookie season. Harry Douglas only had 411 yards and 2 TDs and the Titans expect more out of their 2015 free agent addition.

The Titans have lots of new faces for Mariota plus Walker as the security blanket. If the Titans manage to protect Mariota, they could score some points. Watch out for Walker in this game after Detroit struggled with the Colts weak tight ends in the opener. Also watch out for Mariota’s scrambling ability.

Prediction

The Lions outman the Titans but the Titans do have some talent and good run defense. DC Dick Lebeau (and former Lions player) can scheme well on defense and will surely test the Lions short passing attack with Cooter.

Detroit’s offensive line looks improved but they must be consistent in Week 2. Jurrel Casey is a huge test but the Titans OLBs could be handled by Decker and Reiff. With Stafford protected (other than Casey) and an improved run game by Abdullah and Riddick, the Lions win this game 31-21 in front of the Ford Field faithful.