Both teams came into the season with different expectations; with the Chargers anticipating a return to the playoffs. But both teams currently own a 2-4 record through their first six games of the season.
The Titans had their expectations raised after Andrew Luck retired out of nowhere. Unfortunately, Tennessee hasn’t been able to take advantage of an inconsistent AFC South division.
After having Marcus Mariota start in the first six weeks, Mike Vrabel has decided to hand the offense over to Ryan Tannehill on Sunday. Mariota has been extremely inefficient so Tannehill can’t do much worse than the former 2015 first-round pick.
On the other hand, the Chargers are in a position that they didn’t envision being in before the season began. Last year, Los Angeles went 12-4 and made it to the AFC Divisional Round.
Now, they are in a must-win situation as they kick off on Sunday against the Titans. Even with the Chargers being extra-motivated, here are four reasons why the Titans will defeat the Chargers in Week 7.
4. The Chargers offensive line is riddled with injuries
Since the beginning of the season, Los Angeles has had to survive without Russell Okung at left tackle due to a pulmonary embolism. It is unknown when the veteran left tackle can return as he remains on injured reserve.
Along with Okung, Mike Pouncey was also placed on injured reserve. As a result, Philip Rivers will be under pressure for all 60 minutes of Sunday’s contest.
This season, Tennessee currently has 18 sacks as a defense (tied for fifth-most in the NFL). The front seven of the Titans are poised to have a field day on an injury-riddle offensive line of the Chargers in Week 7.
3. The Titans can slow down Chargers rushing attack
After Melvin Gordon ended his holdout, fans thought that the offense would be fixed instantly. Instead, the offense has been worse as the season has progressed.
Even with Gordon and Austin Ekeler running the ball, Los Angeles has the 27th ranked rushing offense (80.2 yards per game) in the NFL. At the same time, the Titans boast the 15th ranked rushing defense in the NFL.
With the Chargers being a mess on offense, Tennessee will make them one-dimensional in Week 7. If it comes down to Rivers having to win with his arm (as it has been the past two games), the Chargers are in trouble on Sunday.
2. Derrick Henry is going to have a big-time performance
Regardless of who is under center, the Titans are reliant upon Derrick Henry being a focal point of their offense. The Titans offense will go as far as Henry takes them.
In light of that, the Alabama product is in position to have a big-time performance in Week 7. Up to this point, the Titans have the 20th ranked rushing offense but this is a game where they can get into a groove on the ground.
The Chargers have the 22nd ranked rushing defense and the Titans offensive line is talented enough to take over a game. Los Angeles isn’t going to have any answers for the fourth-year running back in Week 7.
1. Tannehill is better suited for this offense
Before the season began, most people knew it was a matter of when—not if—Tannehill would replace Mariota as the starter in Tennessee. As it appears, it only took six games for Vrabel to turn towards the former Miami Dolphins signal-caller.
In reality, Tannehill should’ve been the starter all along since Week 1 because he is better fitted to run this offense. Last week, Tannehill replaced Mariota and was able to efficiently lead the offense down the field while Mariota was unable to do so.
The 31-year-old quarterback completed 13 of his 16 passes for 144 yards and an interception. This will be the first week of the season since Week 1 that the Titans offense will be able to put everything together with Tannehill manning the quarterback position.