Five keys for Titans vs. Raiders

Five keys for Titans vs. Raiders

1. Make the secondary hold up. The Raiders will go as quarterback Derek Carr and receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree can carry them. The Titans are already without starting cornerback LeShaun Sims, and a revamped group that struggled at times in the preseason will go with rookie Adoree’ Jackson, making his first career start.

2. Pound the rock. The “exotic” part of “exotic smashmouth” is nice, but the Titans’ fortunes are grounded in the “smashmouth” part of that equation. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry provide the type of one-two punch that few teams can match, and it will be up to the Titans offensive line to win at the point of attack consistently against the Raiders front four that features Khalil Mack.

3. Turn Marcus Mariota loose. The Titans have been pretty cautious with Mariota throughout the preseason and rightfully so. Now, though, they must turn him loose not only to throw the football, but also to be a runner. His broken right fibula appears to be healthy. Now Mariota has to be ready to test it out not only on runs, but in taking hits and standing in the pocket.

4. Win special teams. The Titans took two of the weapons on special teams that the Raiders had the past few seasons in Daren Bates and Brynden Trawick. Special teams was an area of emphasis in the off-season and preseason for Tennessee, and the Titans need to have that edge on Sunday.

5. Turn off Beast Mode. Who knows what the return of Marshawn Lynch will mean for the Raiders’ running game, but it should be good. The Titans were second against the run last season, but they will face a challenge from Lynch, in his return to the NFL.

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