The Titans gave one away in the opener, losing to the Minnesota Vikings 25-16 after having a 10-0 lead. The situation doesn’t get any easier this Sunday at Ford Field when Tennessee travels to face the explosive Detroit Lions. Here are our keys to the Titans having a chance to earn their first win.
First down: Control the clock, manage the game
The Titans want to be a power running team, although they got away from that in the second half against the Vikings with just eight rushes after the half. It is imperative not only to get the running game going but keep it going with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Lions have high-powered attack, and the Titans must keep the chains moving and keep Matthew Stafford and Co. off the field for as much as they can. Let’s just say this: a 38-31 game probably doesn’t favor the Titans on Sunday.
Second down: Avoid the costly mistakes
The Titans came unglued against the Vikings with three second-half turnovers that directly led to 14 points on returns for Minnesota. Quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had a pick-six and a fumbled exchange returned for scores, has vowed to play better this week. Mariota will need to take better care of the football and find an offensive rhythm against the Lions defense that is somewhat vulnerable.
Third down: Sacks and turnovers
It has been spelled out all week, that despite doing a great job of shutting down Adrian Peterson, the Titans did not sack Shaun Hill or force any turnovers on defense. That has to start, and it won’t be as easy without Derrick Morgan, who is out with a hamstring injury. The Titans need a game-changing play somewhere on Sunday to turn the momentum their way.
Fourth down: Find Delanie Walker
Walker was mostly invisible in the opener up until the final desperation drive by the Titans. He had three catches for 42 yards, but two of the receptions and all but six yards came on the final too-little, too-late drive. The Lions surrendered three touchdown passes to Colts tight ends last week, so now might be the prime time to get Walker back involved in the offense.