Six things to watch for the Titans in Sunday’s game against the Raiders

NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Here’s a look at six things to watch for in the competition:

We’ll get to bringing back Derrick Henry next. But I’m going ahead with the passing game because the Titans need to have more success here if they want to have more room to run the football. The Titans are coming off a game when quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed just 11 passes for 117 yards, with two interceptions. Through two games, the Titans rank 25th in the NFL in passing offense. Treylon Burks was the team’s leading target, with seven catches for 102 yards in the team’s two games combined. Dontrell Hilliard has both of the team’s passing touchdowns. The Titans need to do more here for a number of reasons. Can they do it against a Raiders pass defense that ranks 28th in the NFL?

It seems like everything about Henry has been questioned in recent weeks, when he managed just 107 yards and a 3.1-yard average. Has he missed a step? Does he still have the same explosiveness? Why doesn’t he break more tackles? Can he still carry the team? The reality is that it’s been hard to find out because he’s been hit on the back foot so often before he’s been able to build much momentum. The Titans should get Henry going on Sunday against a Raiders defense that has been pretty solid here through two games.

The Titans have done a relatively good job protecting Tannehill thus far. In two games he’s been sacked just three times, and one of those sacks came on a fumble. But the Titans need an all-around and consistent effort to have more success running the ball, and the team relies on the big guys up front. With Taylor Lewan out with a knee injury, Dennis Daley will play left tackle and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere will play right tackle. But he’ll get all 11 against a Raiders defense that includes pass rushers Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, along with former Titans linebacker Jayon Brown.

Great challenge for secondary

It was a forgettable Monday night in Buffalo for Tennessee’s secondary, as Bills quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs played field and catch all night. Well, the Raiders are heading to town with plenty of weapons of their own, and the offense is led by quarterback Derek Carr. Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams gave the Titans fits when he was with the Packers, and Darren Waller is very difficult. Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow’s status will be worth watching before kickoff, as he missed practice with a concussion. The Titans have been playing a lot of different combinations in the secondary, and that should continue this week. Against the Raiders, the Titans have to be better.

The last time we saw the Titans at Nissan Stadium, Giants running back Saquon Barkley was running defense en route to a big day. The Titans missed tackles and were sloppy with their assignments. It would be nice to say the Titans fixed things up in Buffalo, but the truth is the Bills had so much luck throwing the ball, they didn’t bother running it much. And, when they did, they still had decent room to run, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The Titans can’t afford to be indifferent here against Raiders running back Josh Jacobs because he’s talented and tough.

Two games, two gag puns. With Titans rookie wide receiver Kyle Philips questionable for Sunday’s game, who else could get the nod? Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said earlier this week that the Raiders probably have the best special team in the NFL in punter AJ Cole and kicker Daniel Carlson. The Titans must do their part on special teams by avoiding mistakes. Titans punter Ryan Stonehouse has been solid so far, averaging 56.3 yards on 12 carries. Kicker Randy Bullock is 2-for-3 on field goals so far, but the miss was big. It would be nice to see the Titans make a game-changing play here on Sunday.

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