NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans face the Raiders at Nissan Stadium on Sunday.
Here's a look at five keys/things to watch in Sunday's game:
Get to Carr**
The Titans are ranked No.1 in the NFL in sacks per pass play, with 31 sacks total. Linebacker Brian Orakpo has recorded six sacks in the last six games. A big part of the team's success on defense hinges on getting to the opposing team's quarterback. It won't be easy against the Raiders – Derek Carr has been sacked just 11 times this season, and the Raiders are ranked No.1 in the league in sacks allowed. Something has to give here.
Raiders receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are a talented, and dangerous bunch. Cooper has 736 yards and four touchdowns on the season, while Crabtree has 696 yards and five scores. Carr has already thrown 21 touchdowns vs only six interceptions on the season. The Titans will be back at closer to full strength with cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson in the mix, alongside Perrish Cox and Coty Sensabaugh.
How will Spain do?
The Titans have tried several different combinations on the offensive line this season, some because of injuries, some because of inconsistent play. Undrafted rookie Quinton Spain gets his turn at left guard against the Raiders, alongside rookie center Andy Gallik. Spain is big and strong, and his size (6-4, 330) should help him hold up in the interior. Communication and technique will also be key, and an area to watch on Sunday.
Can the passing game take off?**
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes on November 8 at New Orleans, but he hasn't thrown one since. In fact, the Titans have managed just one rushing touchdown in each of the past two games, in losses to the Panthers and Jaguars. Getting receiver Kendall Wright back on the field should help – he's missed the last three games with a knee injury. The Raiders are also ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense.
We've seen just a small sample of rookie running back David Cobb so far – he had four carries against the Jaguars. Antonio Andrews has been the workhorse for the Titans in recent weeks. Expect to see more of Cobb mixed in moving forward. On what could be a sloppy track on Sunday, the Titans need to be able to run the football against an Oakland defense that's ranked 23rd overall in run defense, and 26th in average allowed per carry (4.5 yards).