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VOL. 41 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 22, 2017

Seahawks at Titans: What to watch

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Russell Wilson vs. Brian Orakpo. Orakpo dominated against the Jaguars on Sunday, including a strip sack of Blake Bortles that Erik Walden recovered. The Seahawks offensive line has struggled this season, but Wilson is an elusive target with an ability to escape matched by few quarterbacks in the NFL. Might the Titans put a spy on the Seahawks signal-caller to limit his scrambling?

Marcus Mariota vs. The Legion of Boom. The Seahawks’ vaunted back seven, the “Legion of Boom,” is coming to town. Mariota has been a little up and down, somewhat repeating the same slow start he had the first month of 2016. There will be little margin for error Sunday going against Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and the rest of the Seattle defense.

Titans O line vs. Seahawks D line. Seattle fortified an already-stout defensive line that features Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril by adding Sheldon Richardson in a trade just before the start of the season. Taylor Lewan, Jack Conklin and the Titans offensive line did a good job against Jacksonville’s pass rush Sunday. They get another strong test this week.

Four downs

First down: Keep creating takeaways. The Titans got Blake Bortles to turn the football over three times last Sunday. Chances are, Russell Wilson won’t be so charitable. But the Titans have to keep playing aggressively and hope to get a miscue or two from the Seahawks, whose offensive line and run game are not what they were a couple of years ago.

Second down: Be the 12th man. In Seattle, the No. 12 was retired to honor the loud Seahawks fans, who create such a home-field advantage there. In Nashville, the Titans “borrowed” that 12th man concept a few years ago, though not quite to the level of success of the Seahawks. Still, a raucous crowd – even if it’s not Seattle-quality – couldn’t hurt the Titans on Sunday as they seek their first home win.

Third down: Turn Adoree’ Jackson loose. Just from week one to week two, rookie cornerback and return man Adoree’ Jackson looked much improved. His tackling and coverage were better, and his 46-yard punt return showed a glimpse of his talent. The rookie will be tested by the likes of Seattle’s Doug Baldwin on defense, but if he can hold his own and make a play or two, the Titans can greatly benefit.

Fourth down: Run the ball effectively. Whether it was the insertion of Derrick Henry into the lineup, better blocking in the second half or just wearing down the defense, the Titans run game showed up in a big way against Jacksonville. The rush yards will be tougher to come by against Seattle, but the good news is the Seahawks’ scheme is similar to the one the Jaguars’ run, giving Tennessee a blueprint to work on in its defensive game plan this week.

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