Giants (5-8) vs Titans (7-6)
The Titans played their game at home on a Thursday night with the Jacksonville
Jaguars. They held a 28 point lead late into the third quarter, and finished up
with a big 30-9 victory over the Jaguars.
On Sunday the Giants traveled to
Washington and things went their way. The Giants built up a big lead, while the
Redskins were held scoreless until the fourth quarter. The final score was 40-16
in favor of the Giants.
- Redskins Wrap-Up
The Titans finished off the 2017
season by going to the playoffs for the first time in nine years. They won their
wildcard game in Kansas City, before losing in their next game in New England.
Despite their achievements, they replaced Mike Mularkey, who led them to winning
seasons in each of his two full years as head coach.
Mike Vrabel runs the team
now, and this year the Titans have had an up and down season. They started off
with a loss, won the next three games, lost the next three, won two, lost two
and won two. That puts them at 7-6 overall, tied with the Indianapolis Colts,
and both teams are trailing the division leading 9-4 Houston Texans.
a new coaching staff, quarterback Marcus Mariota is completing more passes than
he had in his previous three years with the Titans. Mariota struggled last year
with interceptions, but he has that under control now. Mariota is also running
the ball more than before, and has 24 first downs on the year. Corey Davis is
the leading receiver on the team, but Mariota also leans heavily on running back
Dion Lewis, who has just four less catches than Davis. Lewis was brought in as
a free agent after the team released DeMarco Murray, and he has caught 50 of the
56 passes thrown his way. While Lewis, coming off a great year playing in New
England, has been catching more passes, he's seen his average yards per carry
drop to 3.3, the lowest in his career.
Top running back Derrick Henry exploded
last game with 4 touchdowns, and 238 yards rushing against the Jaguars. One of
those was a well earned NFL record-tying 99-yard touchdown run, getting past defenders
he shoved out of the way. Henry is having a great year, averaging 4.9 yards a
carry. For comparisons, he and Lewis have the exact same number of carries, and
in total yards, Lewis trails Henry by 238 yards, and Henry has 31 first downs
to Lewis' 18. With tight end Jonnu Smith being placed on injured reserve, the
Giants will also have to watch out now for Anthony Firkser. He's seeing more action
and is 16 on 16 with his catches, for 165 yards and one touchdown.
Titans are the NFL's top-rated red zone defense, and have allowed 16 touchdowns
inside the 20-yard line, which is the fewest in the league. They are sixth in
third-down defense (36.4 percent), and all this leads them to being ranked fourth
in allowing less than 20 points a game. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey leads the
team with 7 sacks and 10 quarterback hits. Casey also has 31.5 pressures and two
forced fumbles. The defense was slipping on run defense, but they corrected that
last week, allowing just 60 yards rushing.
That run defense will need to continue
in order to slow down Saquon Barkley, who has been averaging 121 yards since the
bye week. Like their own dual threat Dion Lewis,
adapt at both catching and running with the ball. While this defense is near the
top in covering passes to running backs, Barkley
is not your average runner. In the secondary,
cornerback Adoree Jackson has 57 tackles, and two interceptions. Jackson will
be busy covering Sterling Shepard, who always has to be accounted for.
The offensive line has been playing
their best since the bye week, and that has made a world of difference. If you
can give Eli Manning just a bit of extra time, and block a bit better for Saquon
Barkley, the results will be there in games sometimes, as they were last week.
The Giants will be without Odell Beckham Jr. for another game, and last week was
an opportunity to gain some experience on how to handle that. Without Beckham
playing, more focus was placed on Sterling Shepard, and though he was limited
to two catches out of six, one of those was a touchdown.
Tight ends Rhett
Ellison and Evan Engram have been playing well, and Ellison has been doing some
nice run blocking for Barkley. Ellison was injured during the Redskins game, and
was limited in practice, but is expected to play on Sunday. Evan Engram had three
catches, and turned two of them into nice long gains. The Giants are on a roll,
and have averaged 32.5 points over their past four games.
The defense held up well last
week, and they know what's coming at them after seeing how Tennessee's running
back Derrick Henry destroyed the Jaguars. Last
week the Giants defense held Adrian Peterson
to just 16 yards on the ground after letting him run on them for 149 yards in
their first game. At that time, the Giants had just traded their best interior
rush defender Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions, but was last week for real?
On the other hand, Henry's performance wasn't
typical for him. Before that, Henry hadn't
run for more than 58 rushing yards in any one game.
offensive line doesn't provide the best blocking, and that's one of the reasons
running back Dion Lewis has seen his rushing
yards numbers drop down. The Titans make up for that by hitting Lewis with short
screen passes, and he's averaging 7 yards a catch. Meanwhile, Derrick Henry bruises
his way through defenders to get his yardage. The Giants defense will have to
be alert up front, as it's always difficult dealing with a quarterback like Marcus
Mariota, who can also run the ball. If the Giants can control the ground game,
they'll still have to watch for Mariota connecting with wide receiver Corey Davis.
Both teams are coming off big wins over division opponents. The Tennessee Titans
are trying to stay in the playoff hunt, and at this point the Giants are one of
the playoff wannabees. Who wants this game more? Well, that would be a tie, but
the game likely won't end up that way. The Giants have a slim chance to stay in
the race, at least up until all the rest of the teams play their games, and we
think they'll take it.
Sunday at 1:00pm Titans (7-6)
at Giants (5-8).
Sunday at 1:00pm Cowboys (8-5) at Colts (7-6).
1:00pm Redskins (6-7) at Jaguars (4-9).
Sunday at 8:20pm Eagles (6-7) at Rams
None of the NFC East teams are favored to win in these games.
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Saquon Barkley is coming off a career-high 170 rushing yards.
had 14 sacks in the first 11 games, and have had 10 in the last two.
24-point margin of victory last week vs. Washington was their largest since 2014.
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