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Titans Face Big Test in Panthers

Titans Face Big Test in Panthers

The Tennessee Titans will enter Sunday 4-4 and tied with Jacksonville for third of the AFC South race. They are a game and a half behind the Colts who have strung together a three-game winning streak. The sudden absence of Andrew Luck has not phased their playoff goals.

Sunday brings the first big challenge for the Titans since week 5 against the Buffalo Bills. It is the first team with a winning record they’ve faced since the Bills.

Kyle Allen is the Real Deal

The Panthers were 0-2 with their MVP caliber quarterback injured and out after two weeks to start the NFL season. Since Cam Newton went down with the foot injury Kyle Allen has excelled as quarterback of the team.

The Panthers are 4-1 under Allen and has performed masterfully under center. Up until last week against the NFC’s best defense in the San Francisco 49er’s, Allen had yet to throw an interception.

He’s thrown for over 200 yards in only three of the five starts, but has been very accurate on several occasions with a completion percentage over 70 percent in his first two starts. He has made the Cam Newton injury catastrophe go much smoother than initially expected.

Christian McCaffrey is Unstoppable

Titans Face Big Test in Panthers
McCaffrey ranks 4th in the NFL in rushing yards. (Photo by sportscasting.com).

The third-year running back out of Stanford is on pace to absolutely shatter his previous career highs. He’s already surpassed his touchdown high in a season, and should only need another two or three games to surpass the yardage total.

He has yet to fumble this season. Something few backs can boast. He is averaging over 100 yards on the ground per game. He has also proven he can be a dependable receiver racking up 343 receiving yards and two scores as well.

McCaffrey has been held to under 100 yards in a game just twice in seven games. Against all odds he was unable to gain anything against the Tampa Bay Bucs in both games. The Bucs held him to 37 yards in the first game and 31 in the second.

Outside of those games, he has amassed 176 yards, 153 and 128. He even managed 117 on 14 carries against the 49ers. The Titans’ defense will have their hands full trying to contain him this week.

Panthers Defense is Average

The Titans’ offense has improved drastically since Ryan Tannehill has taken over.  The Chargers are a very respectable opponent and still the Titans put up 23 after being shutout the week before. The Tampa Bay defense is horrendous and held the Titans pretty well in check.

The linebacking core of the Panthers will be the biggest obstacle the Titans’ offense needs to overcome. Veteran Luke Kuechly leads the team in tackles to go along with his two interceptions in the last two games.

Titans Face Big Test in Panthers
Kuechly was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. (Photo by dallasnews.com).

Mario Addison is the sack leader with 6.5 but has largely quiet in the last two games. He has also forced a fumble this year.

The Panthers allowed a lopsided 51 points to San Francisco last week after which should be a good sign for the Titans. The 49er offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut as the Redskins showed the week before holding them to just 9 points.

Verdict

The Titans have a big opportunity to get a statement win that lets the fans know they’re for real. Carolina opened as 3.5 point favorites. They get the advantage that comes with being at home.

The Panthers have already beaten the Jaguars – who Tennessee lost to – and the Texans who the Titans will get twice later in the season. Outside of the 49ers and a big win over the lowly Cardinals, the Panthers have played in close games all season, win or lose.

The Titans will need to rely on their stout defense to keep the pressure on Kyle Allen, and definitely need the bigs up front to fill the gaps and keep McCaffrey in check. Offensively they should expect to find a good amount of success on the ground and through the air.

 

 

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