Sunday the Raiders will head to Tennessee and essentially meet their match in the Titans.
Both teams made the playoffs last season. Both did so by finishing the season strong — the Raiders won four straight, the Titans won four of five. And both have started this season 0-2.
Something’s got to give.
Many of you probably caught the Titans last week getting run out of the building by the Bills on Monday Night Football.
But it’s important not to let that performance lull anyone — least of all the Raiders — into a false sense of security. This Titans team was still 12-5 last season. And they were in Buffalo, playing the best team in football right now.
Speaking of a 2021 playoff team that got blown out this season… look what happened to the Cardinals against the Chiefs in Week one.
The Chiefs hung 44 points on the Cardinals and were up 33-7 in the fourth quarter. Then what happened the next week? The Cardinals came back from 20-0 at the half to beat the Raiders.
Were the Raiders thinking at halftime that they had this one in the bag, based on how the 2021 playoff team Cardinals performed the week before? Were they taking the Cardinals lightly because of that? Maybe. They certainly weren’t playing with a killer instinct, to put it mildly.
As Davante Adams said this week, the lesson here is that the Raiders have yet to put together a full game this season. And if they don’t — as Adams said — “break their necks when you have them in a corner,” the Titans can absolutely bite the Raiders just the same if they don’t remain aggressive from start to finish.
Yeah, the Titans offense lost receivers AJ Brown and Julio Jones and have replaced them with two rookies. But they still have QB Ryan Tannehill — who has never lost to the Raiders — and 2020 Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry.
“Very good running game, obviously that goes without saying,” Josh McDaniels said of the Titans offense. “Derrick Henry, any superlative you want to use for him would be accurate – durable, big, physical, fast. He’s just going to have the ball more than any other player on their team and we need to do a good job of trying to contain him. It’s very difficult to stop him.”
On defense they boast Pro Bowl DT Jeffery Simmons and All Pro safety Kevin Byard along with DL Denico Autry who has averaged over seven sacks and 12.5 QB hits per season in the four seasons since the Raiders let him leave as a free agent.
“I’d say that [Kevin] Byard and [Jeffery] Simmons are two of the very best players that we’re going to see all year on any team defensively,” McDaniels continued.
And remember, this is happening in their house, so the Raiders offense will have to contend with crowd noise as well.
No question the Raiders are capable of beating the Titans. I would even say they probably *should* beat them. But the Titans also have the talent to knock the Raiders to 0-3. And that would be a devastating place to be. Especially with the Broncos and Chiefs coming up in weeks four and five.