The 3-7 Tennessee Titans will host the 1-9 Carolina Panthers on Sunday. It promises to be a barnburner that places more emphasis on 2024 NFL Draft positioning than anything else. For the Titans, it’ll be worth monitoring whether or not their Jekyll-and-Hyde home performances continues to be a storyline.
The Titans are 3-0 at Nissan Stadium this season. They’ve scored 27.3 points per contest with victories over the Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Atlanta Falcons. Titans quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill and Will Levis) have thrown six touchdowns versus one interception at home. Even Derrick Henry threw a home touchdown!
They’ve gained 1,115 total yards of offense at Nissan Stadium, gaining no less than 340 yards in a single game, even reaching 400 versus the Bengals. That averages to 371.6 yards of offense per showing, which would rank seventh in the league in that department. Of course, the Titans actually rank 27th at 286 yards per game.
They’re 0-6 on the road, 0-7 if you include the Baltimore Ravens contest in London, which was “technically” a home outing. They’ve scored just five touchdowns throughout those seven contests. They’re averaging 12.2 points away from Nissan Stadium, and 249.1 yards per opportunity, a whopping 122.5 less yards per game than their Nissan Stadium numbers.
2024 NFL DRAFT POSITIONING
With Sunday’s defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Titans moved up to the No. 6 overall spot in the current 2024 NFL Draft order. That gives them a terrific opportunity to draft one of Marvin Harrison Jr., Joe Alt, or Olu Fashanu, who should be their top three targets. Adding quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Drake Maye to that list, the Titans wouldn’t technically be guaranteed one of those five prospects at No. 6, but it does give them a helluva chance. Other offensive prospects that could intrigue the Titans include Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham, and LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers.
The Titans are slight favorites over the Panthers. A victory would almost certainly drop the Titans’ current draft positioning to the 8-12 range. Rooting for a victory isn’t straightforward if you want the Titans to land a blue-chip prospect like Harrison Jr., Alt, or Fashanu, Notably, the New England Patriots and New York Giants play against each other this weekend. Both lackluster franchises are ahead of the Titans in the current draft order at No. 3 and 5 respectively.
The post-Week 12 draft order will receive a significant makeover with four franchises currently slated to “pick” (the Panthers selection belongs to the Chicago Bears) within the top six playing each other.
OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLE
Starting right tackle Chris Hubbard suffered a season-ending bicep injury against the Jaguars, according to a report from Jeremy Fowler. Hubbard was replaced at right tackle by sixth-round rookie Jaelyn Duncan, who performed admirably throughout his first extended action. Duncan wasn’t credited with allowing a pressure or sack.
My initial expectation was that Duncan would continue to work at right tackle despite playing left tackle in college. On Tuesday, Mike Vrabel instead revealed that Duncan would practice at left tackle this week alongside Andre Dillard, who is expected to clear concussion protocol at some point this week. Dillon Radunz, who has constantly been asked to move around, will be shifting from left tackle back to right tackle.
This season, Radunz has played 166 snaps at left guard, 85 at left tackle, 57 at right tackle, and 19 at right guard. I thought allowing Radunz to continue getting comfortable at left tackle would be logical, but the Titans want to see Duncan or Dillard at their more natural position. Radunz hasn’t received an opportunity to gain comfortability at his most natural position.
Vrabel must choose between Duncan and a presumably healthy Dillard. It would be awfully disappointing if the Titans turned back to the veteran Dillard, who has arguably been the worst offensive tackle in football this season. At 3-7, the Titans remain in evaluation mode. Duncan should earn his first career start after performing admirably versus the Jaguars.