What: Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers
When: Sunday, November 3 at 1:00 pm ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
How (TV): CBS
Latest point spread: Titans +3.5, Panthers -3.5
This cross-conference showdown features the 4-4 Tennessee Titans, who are on a two-game win streak, taking on the 4-3 Carolina Panthers, who are coming off a tough loss to the San Francisco 49ers that disrupted their four-game win streak.
Both of these teams are finding success with their backup quarterbacks – the Titans with Ryan Tannehill and the Panthers with Kyle Allen – so it will be up to these temporary fill-ins to steal a win that can keep each team alive.
The Panthers are favored by over a field goal and their offense averages a touchdown more per game than the Titans, so let’s take a quick look at how else these two teams measure up against each other for their Week 9 Monday night encounter.
Check out our NFL Week 9 Picks and Best Bets podcast.
Well, Tennessee Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel finally did it – benched franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota and started back up Ryan Tannehill, and it’s worked, the team 2-0 with the failed Dolphins’ quarterback under center.
Those two wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given these Titans new life, with Tannehill throwing for 5 touchdown passes with just one interception, so they travel to Carolina feeling certain they can win.
The Titans are better defensively than the Panthers, but they are facing one of the league’s best dual-threat backs in Christian McCaffrey, so it will be up to them to keep him off the field and give Tannehill plenty of game time to get enough points on the board.
Many fans thought the Carolina Panthers’ 2019 season was doomed the second franchise quarterback Cam Newton went down with a foot injury in Week 2, but since then backup quarterback Kyle Allen has been doing just fine, posting a 4-1 record by executing the offense and successfully feeding the ball to the Panthers’ primary weapon…
…running back Christian McCaffrey, whose ability to run hard out of the backfield or catch outlet passes and hit hard afterwards has made him one of the league’s best dual-threat running backs, his name definitely in the MVP conversation at this point.
But McCaffrey’s sore knee has him listed as questionable, so Allen may have to give him a break and lean on his other main targets, receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel and tight end Greg Olsen, a big ask given their passing attack is currently ranked in the bottom third of the league.
These two cross-conference rivals have met 5 total times (including 0 postseason games), with Tennessee winning 3 of those times and Carolina winning the other 2 games.
This will be the first time these two teams have played since the 2015 season when the Panthers traveled to Tennessee in November and beat the Titans by a score of 27-10.
If the Panthers win this matchup, they’ll move to 5-4-0 and stay in the NFC Wild Card conversation, given that the NFC South will most likely be won by the New Orleans Saints, who enter Week 9 with a 7-1 record.
But if the Titans come out winners in this one, they’ll be 5-3-0 and that keeps them alive in the AFC South, a division that all four teams have a chance to win.
Who’s favored to win this Week 9 Titans-Panthers matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Titans and the Panthers next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Tennessee Titans have the 28th ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 200.8 yards per game through the air after eight weeks.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is now under center in Tennessee and ranked the 34th most productive passer in the league having completed 57-of-78 passes for 649 yards and 5 touchdowns with 2 interceptions and a completion percentage of 73.1.
The Titans’ leading receiver after eight weeks is A.J. Brown, who is currently ranked 52nd in the league with 22 catches for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Rushing attack: The Titans’ rushing attack is ranked 20th in the NFL after averaging 98.2 yards on the ground per game.
Derrick Henry is the Titans’ best runner and he is currently the 9th best in the NFL with 151 carries for 581 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns, averaging 3.8 yards per carry.
Tennessee has scored 148 total points this season, or 18.5 per game, which is the 26th best total in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 9: tight end Delanie Walker (ankle), center Ben Jones (concussion) and offensive guard Rodger Saffold (concussion).
Injury notes: running back David Fluellen (knee), wide receiver Cameron Batson (undisclosed) and placekicker Ryan Succop (knee) have both been placed on the injured reserve list.
Passing attack: Carolina has the 25th best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 205.9 yards through the air each game.
Quarterback Kyle Allen is the 29th most productive NFL passer after completing 99-of-159 passes for 1,059 yards and 7 touchdowns with 3 interceptions and a completion percentage of 62.3.
The Panthers’ best receiver is currently D.J. Moore, who has caught 38 passes for 463 yards with 1 touchdown in eight weeks, ranked 25th among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: Carolina has the 10th ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 129.6 yards on the ground per game.
Christian McCaffrey is the Panthers’ best runner and now he is the 4th most productive in the NFL with 141 carries for 735 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Carolina has scored 179 points in 2019, averaging 25.6 per game, which is currently the 13th highest scoring average in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 9: offensive tackle Greg Little (concussion), running back Christian McCaffrey (knee), wide receivers Curtis Samuel (shoulder) and Jarius Wright (ankle)
Injury notes: quarterback Cam Newton (foot) is listed as OUT, while wide receiver Chris Hogan (knee), tight end Marcus Baugh (undisclosed), placekicker Graham Gano (knee), offensive tackle Dillon Gordon (shoulder), and offensive guards Brandon Greene (neck) and Kitt O’Brien (undisclosed) have been placed on injured reserve.
The Titans and Panthers have equally effective passing attacks, but Carolina has McCaffrey and a better rush, so they will have the offensive advantage on Sunday.
Pass coverage: The Titans have the 16th best pass defense in 2019 so far, allowing opponents to throw for 239.1 yards through the air per game.
Tennessee’s defense has 8 team interceptions and they have 22 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Titans are the 12th best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 96.5 yards per game.
Tennessee has allowed their opponents to score 135 total points, or 16.9 per game, which is the 4th least in the NFL.
Watch for Tennessee inside linebacker Rashaan Evans, the guy’s got 68 total tackles (4 for a loss) which is tied for the 10th most in the league after eight weeks, plus he’s got half a sack and 3 quarterback hits.
You’re going to want to keep an eye out for Titan’s linebacker Harold Landry, who has 5.0 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries and 36 total tackles (7 for a loss).
In Tennessee’s secondary is free safety Kevin Byard, who has 3 interceptions (T-3rd most in the league), 9 quarterback hits and 43 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 9: Defensive end Jurrell Casey (shoulder), linebacker Harold Landry (shoulder), cornerbacks Malcolm Butler (hamstring), Adoree Jackson (foot) and Chris Milton (calf).
Injury notes: cornerback Josh Kalu (undisclosed) and linebackers D’Andre Walker (groin) and Jordan Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on injured reserve.
Pass coverage: The Panthers’ defense is 5th best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 215.1 yards per matchup.
Carolina’s defense has 9 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 30 total sacks after eight weeks.
Run coverage: The Panthers are 27th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 135.1 yards per game.
Carolina has allowed their opponents to score 184 total points this season, or 26.3 per matchup, which is 24th fewest in the NFL.
If you want to watch a clinic on how to be an NFL linebacker, watch Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, their ‘MIKE’ with 72 total tackles (fifth most in the league), 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended and a safety.
As far as hunting quarterbacks goes, make sure to check out Panthers’ linebacker Mario Addison, who has 6.5 sacks right now (T-11th most in the NFL), plus 6 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and 15 total tackles (5 for a loss).
Carolina cornerback James Bradberry is also worth checking out – he’s got 3 interceptions (tied for 3rd most in the league), 12 passes defended and 33 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 9: linebackers Brian Burns (wrist) and Christian Miller (ankle), cornerback Donte Jackson (groin).
Injury notes: safety Damian Parms (undisclosed), defensive end Kawann Short (shoulder) and cornerback Natrell Jamerson have been placed on injured reserve.
The Panthers’ defense allows opponents to score an average of 10 points per game more than the Titans, so Tennessee will have a defensive advantage in this one.
Tennessee’s punter, Brett Kern, is in his thirteenth NFL season (with the Titans since 2009) and so far he has punted 47 times this season for a net average of 42.8 yards per punt, which was T-9th best in the league.
Carolina’ punter, Michael Palardy, is in his sixth NFL season, fifth with the Panthers, and last week he punted 35 times for a net average of 42.1 yards per punt, which was the T-15th best in the league.
Tennessee’s placekicker, Cody Parkey, is in his sixth NFL season, his first with the Titans.
Parkey has made 3-of-3 field goals so far this season, his longest a 51 yarder, and so far, he has missed one extra point attempt (5/6).
Carolina’s placekicker, Joey Slye, signed and released by the New York Giants twice last offseason and then signed by the Panthers in August.
Slye is 14-of-19 on the season, his longest a 55-yarder, and he missed one extra point attempt (17/18).
Tennessee’s punt returner, wide receiver Adam Humphries, is ranked 35th in average punt return yardage this season.
Humphries has returned 7 punts for 37 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per return.
Carolina’ punt returner, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, was waved after having three muffed punts, and now the team must find a new returner.
The only other Panther (besides McCloud) who has returned a punt this season is wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, who has returned 1 punt for 0 yards, averaging 0 yards per return, his longest for 0 yards.
Tennessee has a better punter and a more solidified placekicker and punt returner at this point in the season so their special teams will have the advantage over the Panthers this Sunday.
If the Titans expect to win, they best take better care of Tannehill better than they did last week when they allowed him to be sacked three times, the offensive line allowing 34 total sacks this season, tied for most in the NFL.
Running back Derrick Henry must have a 100+ yard, multiple touchdown game for the Titans to win, a doable accomplishment given that the Panthers are only 27th against the run right now.
Tennessee can win this game if they can get after Kyle Allen the way the 49ers did last week – they sacked him seven times – because he’s only two games in as a starter and that could totally throw off his timing and confidence.
The Panthers will lose this one if they allow Dereck Henry to run the way they allowed the 49ers to in Week 8, who averaged 6.9 yards per carry, so they must shut him down and neutralize his ability to push past the line and into the second level.
Carolina has one of the best pass rushes in the NFL and Tennessee has trouble preventing sacks, so one of the keys to a Panthers win will be for them to get after Tannehill early and often and put the fear of sack in him as quickly as they can.
For the Panthers to win this one, Christian McCaffrey has to be healthy, because, without the threat of him in the game, Carolina’s offense is left one-dimensional and entirely beatable – the good news is that he returned to practice on Wednesday and participated in “limited fashion.”
The Carolina Panthers by a field goal, because Christian McCaffrey is going to be too tough for the Titans to stop.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Panthers 22, Titans 19.
My prediction for the final score is Panthers 23, Titans 20.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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