How the Titans Can Have A Winning Record Without Jake Locker:
September 30, 2013 in Tennessee Titans
The initial report is that Jake Locker will be out 4-6 weeks, which could be 3-5 games with the bye in there for the Titans in three weeks. While that is not great news, it is definitely better than it could have been which would have been all season. Honestly this injury couldn't come at a worst time for the Titans as they are facing perhaps their toughest part of the schedule, but that doesn't mean they can't manage to find wins in these next 5 games. It might not be easy, but this is how I see them faring these next 5 games:
Week 1: Chiefs at Titans:
The Chiefs are 4-0 to start the year and this game coulld be trouble, but Tennessee shouldn't be counted out of this one just yet. For as impressive as the Chiefs have been benefited from an easy schedule versus the Jaguars, Cowboys, Eagles and Giants. Four teams that have a combined three wins so far. They also had their toughest game of that group against the Cowboys at home giving them the advantage. Here they will have to travel to Tennessee, which could give the Titans an advantage.
The Chiefs are playing good football, but the Titans have done a good job against the run this year which can bottle up the Chiefs top play-maker, Jamal Charles. The Titans have also brought a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and we saw this past week that Alex Smith can turn the ball over if he's under pressure. Now the Titans will need to be really one dimensional, which could be tough versus this defense, but at home I think they are capable of squeaking out a close win. The top key is protecting the football and not allowing that Kansas City defense set their offense up in great field position.
Prediction: Close Win
Week 2: Titans at Seahawks:
I would like to say that the Titans have a chance in this game, but Seattle at home is the toughest match-up you can have in the NFL right now. Even with Locker the Titans were going to struggle in this game. The only hope here is to keep the game close and hope for some miracle play.
Week 3: 49ers at Titans:
This is going to be another really tough game for the Titans and I have a hard time seeing it as a Tennessee win. The Colts did show that San Francisco is beatable, and the 49ers will likely still be without Aldon Smith in this game, but I don't see Tennessee winning without their starting quarterback. The Titans defense can limit the 49ers some, but overall I think they have too many weapons for Tennessee to handle. The 49ers defense should also do a pretty good job even without Smith in this game. Locker might have presented some issues for the defense with his mobility, but I can't see Fitzpatrick giving them the same issues. In the end I see the Titans falling at home and not being too competitive in this game.
Week 4: Bye
There is a chance that Locker could be back after the bye week, but I do think that it will probably take the full 6 weeks.
Week 5: Titans @ Rams
The Titans would be coming into this game 4-3 overall and 1-2 without Locker, but this is a game that they can definitely win on the road, even without Locker. The Rams started off this season looking good, but the last two weeks they are getting exposed by good defensive play and rushing attacks. Those happen to be two things the Titans do extremely well and should be the game plan versus the Rams. The defense needs to keep bringing the heat and let Sam Bradford make a couple mistakes (and likely turnovers). The Rams don't have much of a rushing threat so the Titans should bottle that up pretty easily as well.
Offensively this is a game where Chris Johnson (and hopefully Shonn Greene) can just go off. The Titans need to keep feeding their backs the ball and just watch that Rams defense struggle, while the clock continues to tick down. This is a game where they need 40-50 carries and just need to control the tempo of the game. Though running is how they will win the game, the Titans should look to utilize the deep speed of guys like Nate Washington and Justin Hunter in this game off play action a couple times to get a couple home run plays.
Prediction: Big Win
Week 6: Jaguars @ Titans
The Jaguars are a complete mess right now with just three touchdowns through four games, and most of their offensive production has come in garbage time. There is no reason why this shouldn't be an easy all-around win for the Titans. Tennessee could rest Chris Johnson and still get an easy win, so playing without Locker isn't going to impact this game at all, especially in Tennessee. The Titans defense should dominate this game, and should have little problem keeping the Jaguars off the score board for most of this game.
Prediction: Blowout Win
Winning the Chiefs or the 49ers game is a must for the Titans if they want to have a winning record over the next 6 weeks while Locker is recovering. I don't see them having a chance versus the Seahawks in Seattle, but since they should beat the Rams and Jags, they only need one more win. If it plays out like this the Titans will be 6-3 heading into a crucial game versus the Colts, with hopefully their starting quarterback back under center. If the Titans are 6-3 at this point they have a real good shot at the playoffs, for at least a wild card berth (this is another reason why beating the Chiefs as opposed to the 49ers would be nice). It won't be easy these first three weeks, but the Titans can survive this injury and still be in the hunt, and that is all you can ask for at this point.