Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Game Preview: Titans vs. Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles
04 Dec 2022, 18:12 GMT+10

Dominick Petrillo

The Tennessee Titans (7-4) head into Lincoln Financial Field ranked first in the AFC South and third in the AFC playoff race. Tied in record with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, the Titans will look to keep pace with their rivals by beating the Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) this week. For the Eagles, they look to remain No. 1 in the NFC while also staying atop the NFC East division - a division in which all teams are not only over .500 but, if the season ended now, would have all four teams in the playoffs.

Series Record: The Philadelphia Eagles are 7-5 all time against the Tennessee Titans, including 4-2 at home in Philadelphia.

Offense

QB: Ryan Tannehill will be the starter for the Tennessee Titans in this matchup of division leaders. As someone who can get out of the pocket and take off, he provides a threat that defenses need to watch. His ability to scramble and to find receivers downfield helps Derrick Henry get going at the beginning of games and allows the rushing attack to take over as opposing defenses get tired in the second half of games. Tannehill is not flashy, but he is what the Titans need at the position.

RB: Derrick Henry is the focus of the run game and the offense in Tennessee.

Even when the Titans trail in games, they rely on the run game and Henry to secure wins. In 11 games this season, Henry has rushed 247 times for 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns, at an average of 22.4 carries and 95.3 yards per game. Sunday's game against the Bengals, in which he had 17 carries for 38 yards, was the worst game of his season. At 2.2 yards per attempt, this was a full two yards lower than his 4.2 season average. The Titans will look to get him going against the Eagles' defense, which has improved in the stopping opposing run games since the additions of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh.

WR: Tennessee is a run-first team, and Ryan Tannehill is averaging only 27 pass attempts and 17.5 completions per game in his nine games started.

On the season, no Titans receiver has surpassed 400 yards. Three receivers, Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Treylon Burks, have all gotten over 300 yards. Woods and Westbrook-Ikhine have done so by playing in all 11 games, while Burks has gotten there while missing time and playing in only seven games. Derrick Henry also has 278 yards on 21 catches this season as well.

TE: Chigoziem Okonkwo and Austin Hooper have combined at the tight end position this season for the Titans, with Okonkwo starting five games and having 11 catches for 207 yards and Hooper having 24 catches for 257 yards.

Although Okonkwo started the season as the starter, Hooper has taken the role in recent weeks and looks to be the main TE moving ahead.

Defense

DL: DeMarcus Walker and Teair Tart are complementary pieces for a defensive line that is top in the NFL against the rush. The real key to the Titans' success on the line is Jeffery Simmons.

Simmons, who was a top-five talent in the 2019 NFL draft out of Mississippi State, dropped to the Titans due to a final-season ACL injury and off-field concerns. This injury and its unknown impact on his game caused the Titans to get a talented player who has been able to come back strong and healthy for a Titans defense that has needed a playmaker over the past few seasons. Simmons is such a playmaker, but he was limited in practice this week and is questionable for Sunday's game.

LB: Much like the defensive line in Tennessee, the linebackers are also a solid group with an elite player leading them. Bud Dupree, a prized free agent when signed from Pittsburgh, has been an excellent addition to the Titans' defense. His leadership has helped linebackers and young players like the aforementioned Simmons flourish. The Eagles' ability to control Dupree will be a critical factor in their ability to run the ball in this game.

Secondary: A trio of stars leads the secondary. Both young standouts like Kristian Fulton and rookie Roger McCreary and a veteran All-Pro in Kevin Byard.

Fulton, who missed time in 2020 as a rookie, came back in 2021 with a solid season. In 13 games for the Titans, Fulton recorded 40 tackles and two interceptions and was 11th in the NFL with 14 passes-defensed.

This was what the Titans needed to see after he was only able to play in six games in his rookie season for the team. McCreary, another SEC cornerback from Auburn, was drafted by the Titans to fill the CB role opposite Fulton. Thus far as a rookie, he has provided tremendous support while learning on the job. Having Byard captaining the secondary allows the young guys to learn while having a talented safety net should things go awry.

Key Stats

160 - From 2017-21, Derrick Henry led the NFL in 10+ yard rushes with 160 over those years.

0 - Lane Johnson has allowed 0 sacks in the 2022 season.

17 - Jalen Hurts has 17 passing TD to only three INT this season.

8 - Haason Reddick leads the Eagles with eight sacks in 2022.

2 - The Eagles have added two important linemen in the past weeks to support the run-stopping of the defense. In Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, Philadelphia has added two Pro Bowl players built to specifically stop a run game like Derrick Henry and the Titans.

Marquee Matchup | Eagles Offensive Line vs. Titans DT Jeffery Simmons

Since coming out of Mississippi State in the 2020 draft, Jeffery Simmons has compiled 20 sacks and 104 tackles in 51 games. In 10 games in 2022, Simmons has 6.5 sacks 20 tackles and 1 forced fumble for the Titans. The Eagles want to run the ball and the job the offensive line does in controlling Simmons will go a long way to the team's ability to win.

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