6 burning questions for Titans ahead of Week 10 game vs. Saints

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There was no rest for the Tennessee Titans’ coaching staff after the team’s thrilling 28-16 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on “Sunday Night Football.”

According to Jim Wyatt of Titans Online, the team’s video staff had prepared the Saints tape for the plane ride home from L.A., something head coach Mike Vrabel revealed on Monday.

The Titans are winners of their last five games, including a perfect 4-0 through their most difficult stretch of the 2021 schedule. With a 7-2 record, Vrabel’s group is currently holding the No. 1 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today.

On the other side, the New Orleans Saints went through a considerable transition during the offseason, with long-time quarterback Drew Brees announcing his retirement from the game. The Saints come into Nissan Stadium with a 5-3 record and second place in the NFC North Division.

These two teams last met in December 2019, with the Saints winning 38-28 on the road. However, the Titans have won the last four out of six versus the Saints dating back to 1999.

Here are six questions to keep tabs on leading up to and throughout the game.

1. Can the Titans avoid a letdown game?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2021 schedule was released, most looked at this recent four-game stretch as the make-or-break part of the Titans’ season. Now out of it, Tennessee went a perfect 4-0 against Buffalo, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles.

All of them have been physical and emotional victories that have helped the Titans jump out to a 7-2 record. However, that always leaves the door open to playing subpar against a team like the Saints, who maybe aren’t the main attraction they once were, especially with Trevor Siemian under center.

Still, they come into this one with a 5-3 record. More importantly, they’re 3-1 on the road this season. The Titans have to find a way to maintain that intensity to avoid losing one in front of their home crowd.

2. Can Titans' RB group be more effective?

Syndication: The Tennessean

Both Adrian Peterson and Mike Vrabel touched on the performance of the running back group following the Titans’ 28-16 over the Rams on Sunday, indicating that there is more to give from those guys.

With Derrick Henry out for the foreseeable future, the Titans have to get their running-back-by-committee trio in Peterson, D’onta Foreman, and Jeremy McNichols in some kind of rhythm to avoid making the Titans a one-dimensional team.

On Sunday, the trio rushed for a combined 74 yards on 22 attempts (3.4 yards per carry). Peterson will likely be the lead back as he continues to develop chemistry with his offensive lineman, but Foreman looked really good in a limited sample size.

The Titans will look for a better showing against the No. 1-ranked Saints run defense, which is allowing just 73.8 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry thus far.

3. How will A.J. Brown respond after drop-filled game?

Syndication: The Tennessean

If you recall, Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown struggled with drops in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, logging just a 33.3 percent catch rate.

He had been much better until Sunday’s performance, when Brown dropped a couple of critical catches that would have picked up first downs for the Titans. The Ole Miss product hauled in five catches for only 42 yards, owning a 45.5-percent catch rate against the Rams.

With the rushing attack facing a formidable run defense, Brown might need to carry the team, so to speak, against a Saints pass defense allowing 273.3 yards per game, the sixth-worst mark in the NFL.

4. Can Titans' pass rush get after Trevor Siemian?

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

With Brees opting to retire after last season, the Saints re-signed Jameis Winston, who backed up Brees last year. The former Heisman winner had gotten off to a good start this season, passing for 1,170 yards and limiting the interceptions, something he struggled with during his time in Tampa Bay.

However, Winston was lost in Week 8 with a torn ACL, so the Saints have turned to former Northwestern Wildcat and Titans quarterback, Trevor Siemian to guide the team.

The 29-year-old has 408 yards and three touchdowns since taking over. The Titans will have to get after Siemian to force errant throws, which they have been very good at doing over the last several weeks.

Siemian is not really a threat to run the ball, so Harold Landry, Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, and Bud Dupree should have the green light all day.

5. Can Titans contain RB Alvin Kamara?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

While not as dangerous as when Brees was under center, running back Alvin Kamara is still a legitimate threat the Titans need to account for. The 26-year-old has rushed for 530 yards, while hauling in 310 receiving yards out of the backfield.

Kamara is averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per attempt, but he has rushing touchdowns in three of the last four weeks. Furthermore, he leads the Saints with 32 receptions, so the Titans will need to know where No. 41 is at at all times.

6. What impact will Saints QB Taysom Hill have?

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Initially believed to be the heir to Brees, quarterback Taysom Hill continues to be featured in different looks on the Saints’ offense. Not much of a passer anymore, the former BYU product has just six attempts all year, but he’s very good in RPO looks, especially around the goal line.

Hill has 17 rushes for 81 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to go along with three receptions for 37 yards through the air. He’s been great in the open field, averaging a career-best 13.7 yards after catch per reception.

New Orleans isn’t what it once was offensively, but they still have several players, including Hill, that deserve special attention from the Titans’ defense.

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