NASHVILLE -- The Titans face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Can Tannehill Stay Hot?
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill leads the NFL with a 113.9 passer rating heading into Week 14. Since taking over the starting job in Week 7, Tannehill has passed for 1,458 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 117.1 in his six starts. The Titans are 5-1 in those contests. The Raiders are ranked 24th in the NFL in pass defense, and they've struggled of late. Tannehill has been clutch as the team's starter, and in his first game ever at the Black Hole, the Titans need him to stay hot.
Ride the Derrick Henry Train
Yep, Henry has been motoring himself. Since Week 10, Henry leads the NFL with 496 rushing yards, with some impressive totals in the last three games (188, 159, 149) for the Titans. The Raiders are ranked 11th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and they'll certainly be focused on slowing down Henry. Henry has a chance to join some elite company this week. With at least 150 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown on Sunday, he would become the 5th player in NFL history to do so in four consecutive games.
The Titans have taken a bit here in the last month. First, corneback Malcolm Butler went on Injured Reserve, ending his season. In recent weeks, the team has seen cornerbacks Adoree' Jackson and LeShaun Sims go down with injuries, and they have been ruled out for Sunday's game. The Titans claimed former Cardinals cornerback Tramaine Brock earlier this week, and he wasn't signed to be a spectator. Brock will play, along with cornerbacks Logan Ryan, Tye Smith and Kareem Orr. Brock does have experience vs. the Raiders – he played both games against them last year as a member of the Broncos. And it's not like he's coming in cold – he arrived in good shape an ready to help.
Titans receiver Adam Humphries suffered an ankle injury in last week's game, and Jackson, the team's No.2 punt return man, is sidelined as well. Kalif Raymond's role will expand even more. As the team's primary return man, Raymond will look to provide another spark. The Titans have provided plenty of sparks on special teams in recent weeks with blocked field goals and by creating turnovers. The kicking game should be key once again as well.
Oakland's Talented Twosome
The Raiders have struggled while being outscored 74-12 the past two weeks, and quarterback Derek Carr will aim to give them a jumpstart on Sunday. Tennessee's banged-up defense will face a two-headed challenge when facing players not named Carr. Running back Josh Jacobs has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark (1,061), and the Alabama product is one of the top young backs in the league. Jacobs has five 100-yard games this season. Tight end Darren Waller (66 catches, 807 yards, 3 TDs), who has three 100-plus yard receiving games, is a nightmare to deal with as well. The Titans need to contain them.
The Black Hole
The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum is in its final days, and I, for one, will miss it. It's a crazy place, from the fires burning in the parking lot to the wild, face-painted Raiders fans inside. The Titans have played some memorable games in Oakland, including an AFC Championship Game during to 2002 season. I've witnessed blowouts (52-25 on 9-29-02) and last-second finishes (23-19 Titans on a Ryan Fitzpatrick-to-Kendall Wright TD in 2013). In the "Titans era" the Titans are 2-3 in the Black Hole, which will host its final regular season game on December 15. One of the big keys on Sunday is to get off to a good start and not let the crazies get, well, crazier.