Jussel: Titans are a sneaky threat for Broncos
Answer the following five questions:
Question 1: The Tennessee Titans were formerly what National Football League team?
Question 2: Who is the Titans head coach?
Question 3: Name the Titans starting quarterback and the person he replaced because of a season-ending injury?
Question 4: Who rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009?
Question 5: The Titans leading receiver this season is …?
Here are your answers: 1.) Houston Oilers; 2.) Mike Munchak; 3.) Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Jake Locker; 4.) Chris Johnson of the Titans; 5.) Kendall Wright has 71 receptions for 840 yards.
Honesty is now required.
If you went zip for five, you aren’t watching enough NFL Today or NFL Prime Time. Or, you weren’t paying attention when Earl Campbell was steamrolling Oilers foes a few decades ago.
If you got two or three correct, you and I have probably had a Happy Hour chat, maybe about Tim Tebow, maybe Josh McDaniels, certainly this week’s point spreads.
If you got four or five correct, you need to get your butt off the couch, get outside, shovel your driveway and take the dog for a walk. Chris Berman will survive without you.
Don’t feel badly if you didn’t fare well on the five questions. I had to go deep into Google to find answers because nobody this side of Music Row gives a hoot about the Titans.
Today in Denver at New Mile High, you will be able to scan the entire stadium and not find 10 Titans jerseys, the polar opposite of a contest against the Steelers, Packers or Raiders.
Yes, the Titans are a professional football team. Their fan base, however, does not travel well.
Question is, can the 5-7 Titans, only a game out of a wild-card spot, play?
Answer is, yes, they can — but in a very conservative fashion, mainly because they put their stock in the aforementioned Locker at quarterback in 2011 and he hasn’t panned out. Locker was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list after Week 7 with the Lisfranc foot injury that put Denver’s Ryan Clady on the same list earlier in the season.
Fitzpatrick, the former Buffalo Bills starter, was signed as a free agent in the offseason and has not exactly torn it up either, completing 62 percent of his passes in five starts with eight TD passes but also seven interceptions. He has a QB rating of 82.2, the 32nd-best figure in the league.
Yes, inconsistent quarterbacking has plagued the Titans.
Remember, this was Denver’s main competition to sign a free agent named Peyton Manning. Titans owner Bud Adams, who passed away at 90 in October, was all-in on signing Manning and thinking he had him because of his bulging bank account and Manning’s Tennessee connections.
John Elway and the Broncos pulled off the upset, however, and now the Broncos have a quarterback and the Titans don’t.
That should be the difference in this one.
The Titans will try to run the football with the rabbit-quick Johnson, who has gained 774 yards on the season, but is averaging only 3.8 yards per attempt.
And Fitzpatrick will go to Wright on one of every four plays — but most of those will be possession-type passes in the middle of the field.
Denver will be charged with not allowing Johnson to break a couple of long ones and keeping Wright, who has only two TD catches on the season, in check.
When Manning and the Broncos have the ball, they will be going against a good Titans defensive unit that features cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, the league’s third- and fifth-best defensive backs this season, according to Pro Football Focus. By way of comparison, Denver’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is ranked as eighth-best.
Another Titan who has been disruptive is defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who has three games on the season in which he has had two sacks. He has nine sacks on the season and will be playing most of the time against Denver’s worst pass blocker, left guard Zane Beadles.
Yes, the Titans are a threat, albeit a sneaky, quiet one.
Still, I’ll take my 10-2 record picking with or against Denver and say the Broncos don’t totally freeze up.
Manning, who said during the week that the expected cold weather will not be a factor will pick his poison often (it won’t be Eric Decker this week; instead it will be Wes Welker because of the matchups) and the Broncos will win a relatively low-scoring affair.
Denver 27, Tennessee 20.