5 Things to Watch: Titans vs. Cowboys

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The Titans' (1-0) opportunity to reach 2-0 for the first time since 2008 comes Sunday as they welcome the Dallas Cowboys (0-1) to LP Field for a 12 p.m., CT. kickoff.

The Titans will look to even the all-time series that the Cowboys currently lead 7-6. Tennessee won the last contest between the two teams with a 34-27 victory at AT&T Stadium in 2010.

Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt has never lost to the Cowboys as a head coach (3-0) and owns a 2-0 record against Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, who has never faced the Titans.

The two teams couldn't have had more different outcomes in Week 1. The Titans were stout in all three phases of the game en route to a convincing 26-10 win in Kansas City. The Cowboys couldn't overcome a four-turnover first half in a 28-17 loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers.

Let's get right into our '5 Things to Watch' on Sunday.

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5 Things to Watch**

1. A Defensive Encore

Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton led the Titans to a dominant defensive performance against the Chiefs. The Titans held the Chiefs to 1-for-12 on third down and limited running back Jamaal Charles to 34 total yards. The unit also intercepted Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith three times and sacked him four times.

A performance like that is a recipe for success. Tennessee will be tested again on Sunday by a Cowboys offense full of weapons. It will all start with the Titans' ability to win on first down. Last week, Dallas running back Demarco Murray averaged 5.4 yards-per-carry against San Francisco. Stopping Murray on first down will put more responsibility on the shoulders of Tony Romo.

Pressuring Romo will go a long ways towards helping Tennessee's secondary contain the Cowboys' dynamic duo of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Romo threw three interceptions last week and the Titans hope strong defensive pressure up front can lead to similar results in Week 2.

Look for the defense to feed off the home crowd at LP Field on Sunday.

2. Offense Starting Fast

It took Tennessee's offense nearly the entire first half to get rolling at Kansas City. It's important for Jake Locker and company to find their groove early on Sunday. The quicker they get on the board, the more Titans fans at a sold-out LP Field will make an impact on the game.

There's no question that Tennessee's defense shutting down the Chiefs' offense played a huge part on quieting a ruckus Arrowhead Stadium last week. The Cowboys will have similar goals to take Titans fans out of the game.

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  1. Keeping Penalties to a Minimum**

The biggest blemish of the Titans' Week 1 performance was 12 penalties for 110 yards called against them. It wasn't just the number and yards that were the issue, but the timing of the flags. On Kansas City's lone touchdown drive, the Titans were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct and a personal foul deep inside their own territory. Whisenhunt mentioned multiple times this week that his team will be smarter going forward.

4. Running Back Time Share

Dexter McCluster, Shonn Greene, Leon Washington, and then Bishop Sankey. That was the order of who touched the ball out of the Titans backfield last week. As anticipated, Greene got the most carries with 15 (71 yards), McCluster followed with nine (29 yards), Sankey saw six (25 yards), and Washington got two carries (23 yards).

Each week those numbers will vary depending on the situation and flow of the game, which always makes the team's running back by committee something worth keeping an eye on.

5. Keeping Jake Locker Upright

The offensive line cleared the way for Titans running backs to rush for 4.3 yards per carry in Week 1, but the Chiefs found success getting to Jake Locker who was sacked four times and knocked down four more.

Minimizing those hits on Locker was a point of emphasis during the week of preparation and will be a focus on Sunday.

The Broadcast

This week's game will be televised regionally on FOX, including Nashville affiliate WZTV FOX 17. Joe Buckwill handle play-by-play duties, and Troy Aikmanwill serve as analyst. Erin Andrewswill report from the sidelines.

The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith,analyst Frank Wycheck,gameday host Rhett Bryanand sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.

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