The Titans season hangs in the balance on Monday night in Texas. All eyes will be on the Titans as they look to end a three-game losing streak when they take on the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. Let’s break down the game.
- Must-win game?
Technically all games are must-win, but with a contest against the New England Patriots looming next week, if the Titans fall to the Cowboys there is a very real chance that they will be a 3-6 football team. Not many 3-6 teams make the playoffs, especially with the Texans rolling at 6-3.
In addition to the math, if the Titans have any chance of being a good team, they must beat teams like the Cowboys. The Cowboys are 3-4 and are in a similar situation to the Titans with a solid defense and a vastly underperforming offense. They score 20 points a game, 26th best in the NFL, and gain 320 yards a game, ranking 28th. The problem is the Titans offense is worse, ranking 30th in both categories.
- Offense please
Through seven games, the Titans offense has been bad. The 19 points scored two weeks ago felt like an offensive explosion. Contrary to my preseason prediction, Matt LaFleur has been a total disappointment as an offensive play caller. The hope is this coaching staff used the bye week to make critical adjustments, because it is hard to be worse than they were through the first seven games. Eight total touchdowns in seven games won’t cut it at any level of football.
The Cowboy defense is solid. Led by All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee and a solid pass rush, it will not be an easy task for Marcus Mariota and company to put up points. The Titans must run the ball effectively with Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry to give the passing game a chance to open it up. One possible key could be a familiar face, fullback Jalston Fowler appears to have been brought in to help kick start Henry’s season. If Henry can turn into an effective back, it will help the entire offense come together.
Historically, this group of Titans have no problem showing up in primetime games against teams like the Colts or Jaguars, but when they play one of the “big name” teams in football they fall short (last season against Pittsburgh, anyone?). The Cowboys are not an elite team, but they are still the Dallas Cowboys. It will be one of the most watched games of the week and there will be 100,000 people in attendance. The Titans must remain calm, not get lost in the moment and execute their game plan. If they don’t, they could embarrass themselves again.
Titans 20 – Cowboys 27
These two teams are similar, but the Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott and a group of players who are experienced in prime time games. I think the Titans will go down early, claw their way back but it will be too late. If this prediction holds, it will be time to push the panic button on the 2018 season.
Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CST on ESPN.
Writers note: all stats courtesy of nfl.com
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