The Will Levis era is officially here.
During Mike Vrabel’s press conference on Tuesday morning, the head coach announced that second-round rookie Will Levis will be the guy going forward. It’s well deserved and absolutely the correct move, as Levis has provided a spark to the Titans’ offense and offered big play potential that was not available with Ryan Tannehill starting.
It’s a new day for the Two-Toned Blue, and Will Levis will helm the ship and look to get the Titans back on track. The Titans head to Tampa Bay this week, and this Sunday comes with a matchup of 3-5 teams looking to correct course and build momentum for a late-season push for the playoffs. For our full preview of the game, check out The Hot Read Podcast!
Here are 10 stats that you need to know for Titans at Buccaneers in this week’s Titans Ten:
1. Titans Have Their Number
While the Titans have been on the wrong side of many games this season, they may catch a break facing the Buccaneers. Throughout the entire history of the Titans and Oilers, there is no team the franchise has had more success against than the Buccaneers. In 12 appearances, the Titans have won 10 games against the Bucs, making it their best winning percentage against any other team. Will the reign of dominance continue? Only time will tell.
2. Only in Florida…
The Titans are coming off a disappointing road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night football, and now head to the great state of Florida to finish out a three-game road trip. While the Titans have looked like a different team on the road and have yet to win a game outside of Nissan Stadium, there is optimism that things can turn around. According to actionnetwork.com, teams that face either the Buccaneers, Jaguars or Dolphins on the second leg of a road trip or longer are 95-51-5 ATS (Against the Spread) in the last 20 years. Is it something about the wacky state of Florida? Maybe some of the voodoo will rub off on the Titans.
3. Bounce Back Vrabel
With the loss to the Steelers last week, Mike Vrabel’s impressive winning percentage as an underdog moves back down to just .500, making him still one of the easiest coaches to bet on as an underdog. The Titans currently sit as an underdog of +1 as they head to Raymond James Stadium. When Vraberl has been a dog of three or fewer, he is 21-17 straight up, as well as 19-17-2 ATS. In this season alone in that spot, Vrabel is 4-2 ATS this season. The final nail in the coffin is how good Vrabel has been after a loss, going 12-9-1 ATS in that spot, and covering three of his last four.
4. Baker Struggles At Home
Let’s look at the other side of the ball when it comes to betting this game and talk about Baker Mayfield, who has been serviceable this year for the Buccaneers, but not exactly a QB who has proved he can lead this Bucs team to an NFC South division title. The Titans may have an advantage here against Mayfield, who has struggled mightily at home. Mayfield in his career is just 13-22-1 ATS at home and has never been above .500 to end a season ATS. It’s the 3rd worst record against the spread since he entered the league. The Titans’ defense and an excelling Levis’ could look to keep it going and upset the Bucs at home this week.
5. Big Play Will
One of the many reasons Will Levis got the nod was because of his arm talent, and furthermore, the ability to make big-time plays. Since the rookie got the start in Week 8, Levis ranks second in the most passes completed of 20 yards or more with 10, tied with fellow rookie CJ Stroud. However, the defense must come prepared, as Baker Mayfield also has the ability to make explosive plays with 8 since Week 8, tied with Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow.
6. A Titans Transition Period
Earlier in the week, the Titans waived defensive lineman Naquon Jones. In his place, the Titans signed UDFA T.K. McClendon to the active roster. If McClendon were to see the field this week in Tampa, he would join the 12 other drafted or undrafted rookies to play for the Titans this season. Certainly a large number for a team looking to get younger and retool for the future.
7. King Henry’s Next Milestone
As the Titans face the Buccaneers this weekend, the season of Derrick Henry’s true reign approaches. Last week, Henry passed Chris Johnson on the franchise list for most games with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. This week, Derrick Henry just needs 64 yards to eclipse the 9,000 rushing yard mark, a feat only accomplished by 37 other running backs in NFL History. Henry will look to move up the leaderboards this week versus a Bucs defense allowing the 9th most rush yards this season.
8. The Rushing Disparity
The Biggest difference between these two teams may be the ability to run the ball. The Titans, led by Derrick Henry, have one of the better rushing attacks in the league averaging 114.5 rushing yards per game. The Buccaneers, however, have one of the worst rushing attacks this season, rushing for just 78.3 yards per game. The Titans’ front seven might catch a break against Rachaad White and company.
9. DHops Big Day
Since Will Levis took over at quarterback, Deandre Hopkins’ production has skyrocketed as the young rookie and seasoned veteran have found a good connection. Hopkins can continue his stellar second half against a weakened secondary and look to move up the record books on Sunday. If Deandre Hopkins catches one more pass in the end zone, he will become just the 40th player in NFL history to catch 75 touchdowns. If Hopkins goes off and is able to wrack up 138 receiving yards, the veteran would eclipse the 12,000-yard receiving mark.
10. Opposing Wideout Stars
While the Titans may have Deandre Hopkins to lead the charge in the receiving game, the Buccaneers will have their own set of stars that are just as lethal. The receiver to worry about the most is the Bucs star Mike Evans. Evans has been Baker Mayfield’s favorite target this season, wracking up 594 yards on 37 receptions. In Evans’s only game against the Titans, he exploded for 198 yards on 11 catches and scored twice. The deep threat could look to put up a similar performance against a depleted and struggling Titans’ secondary.