Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Both sides of this spot clearly tilt expected production to the air.
- Rookie quarterback Will Levis will start moving forward for the Titans, even with veteran Ryan Tannehill recovered from his injury.
- WR Treylon Burks has yet to practice this week (as of Thursday) with a concussion.
- The Buccaneers have some injury concerns in the secondary as CB Carlton Davis has yet to practice this week with a toe injury, Jamel Dean got in a limited showing Thursday with a concussion, and DB Josh Hayes has yet to practice with a concussion. These are all extremely important pieces to keep an eye on heading into the weekend considering the heavy utilization of Cover-1 and Cover-3 from the Tampa Bay defense this season.
How Tennessee Will Try To Win ::
First off, the Titans remain one of the more methodically based offenses in the league, preferring to march the field through elevated time of possession and sustained drives while their defense cracks down on the run. That has opened up ever so slightly with Will Levis under center, but we’re still dealing with an offense averaging just 29.1 pass attempts per game (30th) that plays with slow pace (31st-ranked 31.0 seconds per play). The return of Vita Vea for the Buccaneers further tilts the path of least resistance to the air for the Titans, although Tennessee has largely been reliant on game environment to dictate their play calling tendencies (and not the matchup). In other words, we should expect the Titans to continue with heavy rates of early down rushing through Derrick Henry for as long as they are both allowed to and it is working.
Speaking of Mr. Henry, the King continues to defy Father Time as he remains one of the harder players to get to the ground in the league. The difference this season when compared to previous years is an offensive line largely not doing him any favors, blocking to just 1.26 yards before contact, 11th worst in the league. Even so, Henry remains the focal point of the offense with clear paths to 20+ carries in competitive game environments. He has also seen three or more targets in five games this year, which gives him additional outs to returning elite GPP production. That said, the Buccaneers present a clear pass-funnel matchup having allowed 349.3 pass yards per game over their previous four games. Those opponents included Jared Goff, Desmond Ridder, Josh Allen, and C.J. Stroud, with all but Ridder going over 324 yards through the air (Ridder even managed 250 yards through the air in a win). In fact, the most yards a single ball carrier managed over the previous four games against the Buccaneers was 67 yards by James Cook in Week 8, the only game during that time that Vea missed. The snap rate amongst backs for the Titans remains a near-even split between Henry and Tyjae Spears, although Henry sees a much higher touch-to-snap ratio than the rookie and is the only one with the upside to see 20-25 opportunities on a weekly basis.
The likely absence of Treylon Burks due to a concussion should increase the involvement of Chris Moore on the perimeter, although all of Moore, Nick Westbrooke-Ikhine, and Kyle Phillips are likely to be involved via sub-elite snap rates. Chig Okonkwo and Trevon Wesco combine for sub-elite snap rates, although Okonkwo is the one in a route at a much higher rate. DeAndre Hopkins started the season in a near every-down role before being held below 70 percent in each of the two games since the team’s Week 7 bye week, backing up his three-touchdown Week 8 performance (on six targets) with an 11-target game in Week 9. Hopkins holds an elite 33.3 percent targets per route run rate against man coverage this season and should continue to see a high rate of first-read targets with a rookie quarterback chucking the ball. As was touched on above, the matchup could be further influenced by the status of the two starting perimeter cornerbacks on the Buccaneers, as both Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis find themselves on the team’s injury report this week.