Titan fans the moment you have all been waiting for is here, games that actually matter! It is time to see how Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the team will rebound from that awful playoff loss to the Bengals. Things start off nice by welcoming the Giants before going on the road to play AFC favorite Buffalo Bills and division rival Indianapolis Colts.
It is important to set the tone for the season with a win against a team they are clearly better than, which is the case against the Giants. Let us wait no further and dive into three things to watch for Sunday.
How Rookie starting right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere performs in his debut. NPF has a fortunate draw to open his career, with fellow talented rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux not expected to play. Thibodeaux was a top five pick and is the most talented player on the Giants defense. Without Thibodeaux the Giants lack a real edge rusher. That allows NPF to get his feet wet and gain some early confidence in his career.
Without a strong performance Sunday, the Titans have a major problem at RT moving forward. The Titans have been looking for RT since 2020 when Jack Conklin left for the Cleveland Browns in free agency. NPF is a key for how far the Titans can go in 2022. If one of your offensive tackles is a liability, it is hard to be a consistently good offense.
Can the Titans contain a healthy Saquon Barkley. Since taking the league by storm as a rookie, Saquon Barkley has struggled to stay on the field. When Barkley is healthy, he is one of the best running backs and players overall in the NFL. Barkley enters week one healthy and if the Titans struggle to contain him, it will be a long day for Mike Vrabel’s defense.
Last week Titans pro bowl defensive end Harold Landry suffered a season ending torn ACL. Landry is not only a good pass rusher but exceptional against the run. Landry is underrated with how multidimensional he is. Anytime you are in the same group as Aaron Donald and Micah Parsons, you’re doing something right. Landry’s replacement Rashad Weaver is a talented pass rusher. He has the potential to replace Landry’s sack total, but it will be important to see how he defends the run. That test starts Sunday with Saquon Barkley.
Can the Titans continue their red zone success without AJ Brown in the lineup. While the Titans still have the best running back in the league, they are lacking some of the size at WR. The Titans have been one of the best redzone teams in the league recently. Having the ability to hand it to Derrick Henry or throw it up to 6’2 AJ Brown has been a major reason why. The last year Brown and Henry were fully healthy in 2020, the Titans had one of the best redzone offenses in the NFL.
While Robert Woods is a good WR he does not bring the size that Brown did previously. Depending on how fast rookie WR Treylon Burks gets caught up to speed he could bring that size similar to Brown. Burks is the one player who has that ability on the roster. Moving forward when the Titans go up against the better teams, redzone effectiveness will be something to monitor.