NFL Preview - Tennessee (3-2) at Seattle (4-1)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - After playing three consecutive home games, the
Tennessee Titans are about to pay for it by going on the road to perhaps
the NFL's toughest environment, Seattle.
The Seahawks have yet to lose in the Pacific Northwest since Russell Wilson
took over as the team's signal caller. Wilson is a perfect 10-0 as a starter
at CenturyLink Field, completing 128-of-204 passes for 1,848 yards with 22 TDs
and only four interceptions, good for a 119.9 passer rating in those contests,
Making matters even worse for the Titans is the fact that Seattle faltered
down the stretch in Indianapolis last week, suffering its first loss of the
The Seahawks, who own a one-game lead in the NFC West over both San Francisco
and Arizona, let a fourth-quarter lead slip away after gaining control with a
pair of touchdown passes by Wilson.
It was Seattle?s first defeat in the regular season since Nov. 25, 2012,
ending a run of nine straight regular-season wins.
Wilson threw for 210 yards and two scores and added 102 yards on the ground to
match Marshawn Lynch's rushing total. Steven Hauschka kicked four field goals
but had another attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown by Delano Howell.
"Not closing out drives and taking field goals was a big difference today,"
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. "The tale of this game comes down to
the big plays made or weren't made. It's a very frustrating game to leave out
The Titans, meanwhile, hosted the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs last week and
fell by a final score of 26-17. After falling behind 13-0, the Titans scored
17 consecutive points in the second half before losing the lead in the fourth
Ryan Fitzpatrick, making his first start in a Titans uniform in the place
of injured starter Jake Locker (hip, knee), completed 21-of-41 passes for 247
yards, including a creative toss to Chris Johnson that resulted in a 49-yard
touchdown. The ninth-year veteran quarterback also scored the other touchdown
for the Titans on a nine-yard run.
The Titans defense was stout for most of the afternoon, allowing the
Chiefs to convert only 1-of-12 third-down attempts and one touchdown in four
trips inside the 20.
However, the one touchdown allowed by the defense, combined with four Kansas
City field goals, was enough in the end for the Chiefs as they benefited from
an early Titans special teams miscue. Kansas City's first punt of the game
caromed off the foot of Damian Williams and into the end zone, where it was
recovered by the Chiefs for a touchdown.
"This was kind of a roller-coaster ride," said Titans linebacker Zaviar
Gooden. "We've just got to finish games."
The Titans and Seahawks have met 14 times during the regular season with
Seattle having a 9-5 advantage. The Seahawks had won five consecutive games
and seven out of eight until the Titans won the last encounter, a 17-3 win at
CenturyLink Field in the 2009 season finale.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Wilson's ascent to the top of the NFL mountain has been rapid to say the
least. As a rookie, he started every game and was selected to the Pro Bowl
after matching Peyton Manning's 1998 record for most touchdown passes by a
first-year player (26) and setting a club record with a 100.0 passer rating.
This season, the University of Wisconsin product, has most buying into Seattle
as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. He's the classic new breed dual-threat
QB that can beat you with his arm or legs and has proven to be a notch better
The Titans defense Wilson will be facing is a solid unit, ranking ninth
overall in the NFL by allowing 321.2 yards per game. Wilson's biggest problem
could be playmaking corner Alterraun Verner, who likes to bait opposing QBs
into game-changing mistakes.
Fitzpatrick is a competent backup for the Titans but this is the kind of test
which would have proven to be a great learning experience for Locker, who will
remain sidelined this week.
Fitzpatrick threw a pair of interceptions in final 6:14 against Kansas City
last week and needs to play a clean game for Tennessee to have any chance.
For that to happen, though, the Titans really need to get their running game
going. Tennessee has managed just 183 rushing yards over the past two weeks.
Chris Johnson was held to 17 on 10 carries against the Chiefs after gaining a
measly 21 on 15 carries during a 38-13 win over the New York Jets on Sept.
The Titans rank just 19th in the NFL at 3.7 yards per carry and Johnson needs
to show some juice here. The team could also get a boost from the potential
return of Shonn Greene, who has been sidelined with a knee injury.
The Seahawks sports one of the league's best defenses led by perhaps the NFL's
top secondary headlined by a pair of All-Pro performers: safety Earl Thomas
and cornerback Richard Sherman. Through five weeks, they are ranked sixth
overall and third in passing defense but there are a few holes.
After allowing just 27 points in the first three weeks, Seattle has given up
54 in the past two games. Seattle also outscored their first four opponents
by a whopping 44-7 margin in the fourth quarter before letting Luck and the
Colts dominate in the final frame last week.
The Seahawks' stingy D allows only 4.0 yards per rush, however, and 109.0
yards a game on the ground.
"We've played well in spurts as far as doing things consistently but haven't
yet to this point," Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. "When you're not
converting things like that third-and-1s, fourth-and-1s, like I said that's
concerning and that's up front. We have to get more push at times."
The Seahawks current 10-game run at CenturyLink Field is the longest active
regular-season home winning streak in the NFL and they have only been upping
their dominance as it progresses. In its last six at home, Settle has
outscored opponents by a gaudy 222-53 or basically a 37-9 margin.
"I don't want to get real good at this," Carroll said. "I don't want to get
good at playing after losses, but we need to handle it well, but I'm curious
to see if we do."
While the Titans have won seven of their past 10 on the road against NFC
squads, this hill is just too steep to climb.
"We know going to Seattle, how hard it is," Munchak said. "We have to go
reload, and we will, and play better."
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 31, Titans 17
10/10 14:01:51 ET