The time has finally come for NFL Week 1. 235 long days after the Titans fell to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, the NFL is back. The season will start on Thursday with the Chiefs facing the Texans.
Here is a preview of the Titans @ Broncos Monday Night Football game, I have included things to watch in each of the Week 1 NFL matchups below Titans @ Broncos:
Titans @ Broncos MON 9:20pm:
Just over a week after acquiring Defensive End, Jadeveon Clowney, the Titans will face the Denver Broncos in the second Monday Night Football matchup of the day. The Titans shocked the NFL last season after Ryan Tannehill turned around the season and eventually led the Titans to the AFC Championship with the help of Derrick Henry. Henry was the most important player throughout the season and earned the 2019 rushing title and a new contract.
Over the offseason, the Titans moved on from some very important players. Jon Robinson opted not to resign big players like Logan Ryan and Jack Conklin as well as role players such as Tajae Sharpe, Wesley Woodyard, and Austin Johnson. The Titans also traded Jurrell Casey to the Broncos for a 7th round pick. Ultimately, the Casey trade seems to be an effort to clear cap space to sign Jadeveon Clowney. While Casey made huge plays for the Titans last season, Clowney is a much different and more intimidating player. Casey will certainly be missed as he came up huge last season in many scenarios.
Broncos Scouting Report:
The Broncos Week 1 Quarterback is Drew Lock, who started 5 games for the Broncos last season in his rookie year. Lock threw 7 touchdowns compared to 3 interceptions and was solid. The Broncos offense has two good running backs after they signed Melvin Gordon during the offesason. Their other running back, Philip Lindsay, was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has had 2 good seasons.
The Broncos also have a lot of talent at WR with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Sutton emerged as the top reciever on the team last seaon and has a lot of talent. Jeudy was drafted by the Broncos in the first round of the 2020 draft and is known for being quick for his size and being great after the catch. At tight end, the Broncos have second year TE, Noah Fant, who showed a lot of promise in 2019. Ultimately, the Broncos offense does not have a lot of experience, which will work in favor of the Titans defense.
Unfortunately, the Broncos announced on Tuesday night that star LB, Von Miller, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in practice. Miller is among the best players in the NFL and this is a huge loss for Denver. On the defense, they still have a lot of talent. They have DE Jurrell Casey, who will obviously be playing with a chip on his shoulder. They also have LB Bradley Chubb who had an incredible 12 sacks in his rookie season in 2018 but played just 4 games in 2019 due to injury. Finally, the Broncos have one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL, Justin Simmons. Simmons recorded 4 interceptions last year and had 15 passes deflected. Last season, the Broncos ranked 10th in total defense, as they have in each of the last 3 seasons.
What to Expect:
The Titans have a poor history playing in Denver. Most notably, the Titans were shutout by the Broncos 16-0 last season which led to the benching of Marcus Mariota and the promotion of Ryan Tannehill. During their history as the Titans (not Oilers), Tennessee has never won in Denver. This season, however, is different than any other for many reasons. In addition to the obvious differences related to Covid-19, this Titans team is unlike any in the past. The Titans have solidified the Quarterback position, have the best runner in the NFL in Derrick Henry, have an extremely underrated Tight End in Jonnu Smith, and have 2019 rookie of the year snub, A.J. Brown.
In addition to their improved offense, the Titans made a massive move on defense this week. On Sunday, the Titans officially signed Jadeveon Clowney to a 1 year, $12m deal that could be worth up to $15m if certain incentives are met. The Clowney signing is fantastic for the Titans for many reasons that you can read here. Clowney will hopefully solve the Titans problem at pass rush that they have had for many seasons. Clowney does not always have a huge number of sacks but he provides a lot to the defense. In addition to Clowney, the Titans signed Vic Beasly over the offseason, who had 15.5 sacks in 2016. With Clowney, Beasly, Harold Landry III, and Jeffrey Simmons rushing the passer, other teams should be terrified.
The 2020 Titans team is similar to the 2019 team, which is very beneficial in such an unprecedented offseason. Despite having a similar team, I still have a few concerns. The Titans have a new kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who may be good but after last season, kicking scares me. The problem of pass rusher seems to be improved and I feel confident with Dennis Kelly at RT although many people don't.
I am most scared about backup Quarterback and Cornerback. The Titans waived QB Trevor Siemian and are sticking with Logan Woodside as the backup. At corner, the Titans are putting a lot of faith in 2nd round pick, Kristian Fulton, as he will likely start in Week 1. Behind Fulton is veteran, Jonathan Joseph, who appeared to have a poor camp and his not the fastest corner.
Keys to the game:
1. Establish the Run
This is an obvious key because the Titans have Derrick Henry at Running Back. Henry, 26, led the NFL in rushing last season and I think he will do it again this season as I wrote here. Henry is at his best when he gets carries early and often, making establishing the run early important. If Henry starts off well, that will help the pass game greatly as the Broncos will panic to try and stop Henry.
2. Be Physical
The Titans have some of the biggest and strongest players in the NFL and I believe they are among the most physical teams in the NFL. On offense, they have Derrick Henry, Jonnu Smith, AJ Brown, and Corey Davi and Jeffrey Simmons, Vic Beasly, Harold Landry III, Rashaan Evans and Jadeveon Clowney on defense.
3. Take Advantage of Denver's mistakes and do not turn the ball over
Last season, one thing the Titans did not do well was capitalize on mistakes. When they got an interception or recovered a fumble, they would punt after a quick 3 and out far too often. When Jadeveon Clowney strips Drew Lock, that needs to turn into points. Games come down to big plays but if you do not capitalize on big plays, they are of no use. Additionally, the Titans must avoid costly turnovers. Teams that have 0 turnovers win 73% of the time and with each turnover, your chance of winning drops by about 16%.
Offensively, Ryan Tannehill must get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and they will make plays. Defensively, the Titans must get to Drew Lock, something they have struggled with in the past.
I am predicting a 32-17 win for the Titans for a few reasons. While I think Drew Lock has potential, the loss of Von Miller is huge for the Broncos defense. I think this works in Derrick Henry's favor. I also believe the Titans pass rush and defense as a whole will be too much for the Broncos to handle though the Titans defense must make sure to contain Courtland Sutton.
Below is what to watch for in each of the NFL's Week 1 Matchups:
Chiefs vs Texans TH 7:20pm:
The defending Super Bowl Champions, Chiefs, will attempt to defend their title starting Week 1 against DeShaun Watson and the new-look Texans. The Texans offense underwent some serious changes over the offseason, trading away DeAndre Hopkins and acquiring RB David Johnson. Additionally, the Texans traded for WR Brandin Cooks and signed WR Randall Cobb. These are 2 of the best young Quarterbacks in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson and it should be a great matchup to kick off Week 1.
Bills vs Jets SUN 12:00pm:
2018 first round Quarterbacks, Sam Darnold (chosen 3rd by the Jets) and Josh Allen (chosen 7th by the Bills) will face eachother for the 4th time in their 2 year careers. Allen has some new weapons in RB Zack Moss and WR Stefon Diggs and the Bills defense, led by CB Tre’Davious White, looks to follow up 2019 with another strong season. The Jets, who struggled last season, have made improvements on both sides of the ball. Their offseason included many additions at wide receiver and across the offensive line which will benefit RB Le’Veon Bell, Sam Darnold, and the Jets offense. Defensively, the Jets traded away one of the best safeties in the league in Jamal Adams but received safety, Bradley McDougald and multiple draft picks in return.
Vikings vs Packers SUN 12:00pm:
Both the Vikings and Packers won a playoff game last season and this inter-division matchup will be a good game. Vikings QB, Kirk Cousins, who is known for struggling in big games, lost his top target, Stefon Diggs. In a resulting move, the Vikings drafted WR Justin Jefferson in the first round. Under second year head coach Matt LaFluer (former Titans OC), the Packers will continue to improve defensively and continue to score touchdowns on offense.
Washington Football team vs Eagles SUN 12:00pm:
The Washington Football team, who renamed their franchise over the offseason, named Dwayne Haskins, one of their 2019 first round picks, their starting Quarterback for Week 1. They also have QB Alex Smith, who remarkably came back from a life threatening leg injury and is now on Washington’s 53 man roster. In the draft, Washington picked Chase Young, who is a promising young Defensive End who you’ll want to watch this season. The Eagles will look for revenge in 2020 after they fell in the playoffs after losing Quarterback, Carson Wentz, to a head injury. Wentz, who has a concerning history of injuries, got a new target in WR Jalen Reagor (who is Doubtful for Week 1) and the defense made many changes. The Eagles secondary looks much different then last season, which may be an advantage for Dwayne Haskins.
Ravens vs Browns SUN 12:00pm:
One of the most talked about teams in the NFL is the Cleveland Browns. Last season, analysts said the Browns were going to the Super Bowl and obviously, that did not happen. Instead, they finished the season 6-10. 2018 First overall pick, Baker Mayfield, struggled in 2019 despite having Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Nick Chubb around him on offense. Mayfield threw 22 touchdowns compared to 21 interceptions and regressed greatly from his first to second season. Mayfield will be very interesting to watch as many people have very high expectations for him in 2020. The Ravens are led by 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. The Ravens lost to the Titans in the 2019 playoffs despite Jackson having a decent game. Jackson’s ability to throw the ball will continue to be questioned though his running ability is unlike anything seen before. The Ravens made a few moves such as adding pro Bowl DE Calais Campbell.
Jaguars vs Colts SUN 12:00pm:
Philip Rivers will play his first game in a Colts uniform and will face the Jaguars, who appear to be tanking. Rivers, 38, looks to bounce back from a poor season in 2019 and led the Colts to the playoffs. The Colts made many defensive additions and have a well rounded defense.
Panthers vs Raiders SUN 12:00pm:
New Panthers QB, Teddy Bridgewater, will be the unrivaled starting Quarterback for the first time since his near career ending knee injury in 2016. After going 5-0 as a starter in 2019, Bridgewater will look to build on his success with some skillful players at WR and RB.
Lions vs Bears SUN 12:00pm:
On Friday, the Bears named 2017 2nd overall pick, Mitchell Trubisky, starting Quarterback. Trubisky regressed from 2018 to 2019 and was questioned by many. The Bears traded for QB Nick Foles over the offseason and it may just be a matter of time until we see Foles as the starter in Chicago. The Lions will get QB Matthew Stafford back after he missed part of last season with a back injury. The Lions could have an underrated offense this season.
Falcons vs Seahawks SUN 12:00pm:
The Falcons had a disappointing 2019 season, in large part due to their inability to score. Over the last 8 games however, they had a record of 6-2 and they hope to build on that in 2020. The Seahawks are coming off an NFC Divisional round loss though I think they certainly have the potential of making it further in 2020.
Patriots vs Dolphins SUN 12:00pm:
For the first time in 18 years, Tom Brady is not the starting Quarterback of the New England Patriots. Instead, Cam Newton will start and he has a lot of potential. Newton, 31, is 13 years younger than Brady and brings a much different playstyle to the Patriots. Defensively, the Patriots will have to deal with many opt outs. The opt outs include Linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Safety, patrick Chung. The Dolphins will start Ryan Fitzpatrick Week 1 and will keep 2020 draft pick, Tua Tagovailoa on the bench for now.
Bengals vs Chargers SUN 3:05:
1st overall pick, Joe Burrow, does not have a history of losing. The Bengals went a league-worst 2-14 last season and with a few big additions, the Bengals will try to change that in 2020. The Chargers are starting Tyrod Taylor at Quarterback despite drafting QB Justin Herbert 6th overall.
49ers vs Cardinals SUN 3:25pm:
The Super Bowl runners up, 49ers, will face Kyler Murray and new Cardinals receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. Murray, who was drafted 1st overall in 2019, has some great weapons in Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk. The 49ers, who are led by Nick Bosa and the defense, will be an interesting matchup against the up and coming Cardinals offense.
Saints vs Buccaneers SUN 3:25pm:
Tom Brady will play his first game with the Buccaneers and will face another great Quarterback in Drew Brees. Brady was drafted 20 years ago and will play his first game for someone other than the Patriots on Sunday. Brady is surrounded by weapons with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at Receiver, Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard at Tight End, and Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy and Ronald Jones at Running Back. The Bucs, who had a strong defense in 2019, looks poised for a strong season in 2020. With an astounding improvement at Quarterback, I think the Bucs could certainly make a run in the 2020-21 playoffs. Brady and the Bucs will face a tough offensive and defensive opponent in the New Orleans Saints.
Rams vs Cowboys SUN 7:20pm
In the first Sunday Night Football matchup of the season, Rams’ QB, Jared Goff, will face off against fellow 2016 draft pick, Dak Prescott. The Cowboys made many moves over the offseason, focusing on their defensive line. Additionally, the Cowboys drafted WR Ceedee Lamb, who adds to their already stacked offense. Because of this stacked offense, I think Prescott is a dark horse candidate for 2020 MVP. The Rams, who are in a tough division, will look to revert to 2018 form when they made the Super Bowl.
Giants vs Steelers MON 6:10pm:
Ben Roethlisberger will be returning from injury and playing for the first time since Week 2 of 2019. Despite horrendous performances by Steelers QB’s Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges, the Steelers were in the playoff hunt deep into the 2019 season. Rothlisberger, 38, is coming back from an elbow injury that no player has ever come back from but he and the Steelers have a history of winning. The Giants are led by 2nd year QB, Daniel Jones. Jones was criticized throughout the 2019 draft process but had one of the best rookie seasons out of the 2019 draft class. Jones has a lot of promise and has weapons around him that will help him succeed.
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