NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans return Nissan Stadium on Sunday to face the Oakland Raiders.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
The Titans have been effective running the ball through two games, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. DeMarco Murray leads the way with 131 yards, and a 5.2-yard average. The reality is the Titans haven't really hit their stride yet with Murray and Derrick Henry. The two backs have a combined 39 rushing attempts in two games. Look for the Titans to try and establish the run on Sunday against the NFL's 32nd ranked defense. The Titans would like to wear the Raiders down in the heat, and keep their high-powered offense off the field.
Can Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota stay hot, and keep the momentum going? Mariota directed a come-from-behind victory last week in Detroit, and he was 9-of-9 on the game-winning drive. The Raiders have had all kinds of trouble stopping the pass this season – opponents have thrown for 819 yards combined in two games, and opposing QBs have completed 71.1 percent with a passer rating of a whopping 131.4. Mariota would like to keep it going.
The Titans offensive line has performed well during the first weeks. Yes, Mariota has been sacked five times, but on several occasions he was guilty of holding the ball too long. The Titans placed right guard Chance Warmack on Injured Reserve this week, however, after he opted to have surgery on a torn finger tendon. Titans coach Mike Mularkey said either Josh Kline or Brian Schwenke will slide it at right guard, in between center Ben Jones and right tackle Jack Conklin. How will the chemistry be out of the gate? It's worth keeping an eye on.
Yes, I mentioned Oakland's high-powered offense. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has thrown for 618 yards and four touchdowns in two games, with a 107.4 passer rating. Amari Cooper is one of the best young receivers in the game, and Michael Crabtree is a savvy veteran capable of doing damage himself. Cooper (7 catches, 115 yards) and Seth Roberts (6-113) hurt the Titans last year. The Titans defense has allowed just one touchdown in two games, but the unit will be challenged in this one, especially the secondary. Jason McCourty and Perrish Cox will need to play well, but the entire back end will be tested.
The Titans didn't sack Vikings quarterback Sean Hill in Week One, but they turned up the heat last week in Detroit. Linebacker Brian Orakpo sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford twice, and it was part of a four-sack effort. The pressure impacted Stafford's performance. By game's end, Stafford couldn't get the ball out fast enough. Getting to Carr won't be easy. He's been sacked just once in two games, which is part of the reason he's been able to throw the ball downfield so effectively. Getting linebacker Derrick Morgan back would help, but Kevin Dodd and David Bass have performed well when given opportunities.
A week ago in Detroit, Succop extended his streak to 19 consecutive successful field goals from inside 50 yards. With one more, Succop will not only tie his career best, but he'll also become the second player in franchise history to record such a streak. Al Del Greco made 24 consecutive field goals from inside 50 yards from 1995-96 and he also had a 20-kick streak from 1998-99. The Titans need to get points any time they're within range against an Oakland team with a dangerous offense.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Oakland Raiders. (AP Photos)