Pats vs. Titans: Keys to victory
Keys to victory for the Titans (4-4) as they host the New England Patriots (7-2) on Sunday (noon, CBS) at Nissan Stadium.
Marcus Mariota's supporting cast needs to keep it up
Tight end Jonnu Smith caught two passes, including one for a touchdown, against the Cowboys. Heck, receiver Cameron Batson had two grabs, too. Darius Jennings even caught a long ball. And the offensive line had a solid second half. Marcus Mariota was fantastic in leading the Titans to a 28-14 win in Dallas on “Monday Night Football” (aside from one poor pass to Corey Davis and a fumble), and his outing was boosted by contributions from all corners of the roster. He needs that consistently going forward.
Keep forcing turnovers
After two lost fumbles in the first quarter against the Cowboys, the Titans caused two turnovers of their own – safety Kevin Byard had an interception, and Jayon Brown forced a fumble that fellow linebacker Wesley Woodyard recovered – that helped Tennessee seize the momentum. The Titans probably will need a couple of such plays Sunday against Tom Brady and the Patriots' prolific offense.
No explosive plays for Josh Gordon
Wide receiver Josh Gordon, whom the Patriots traded a fifth-round pick for in September, is beginning to really find a rhythm in his new offense.
In the Patriots' past five games, he has five catches of at least 20 yards, including two that went for 55 yards and two that ended with Gordon in the end zone. Those types of explosive passes have been the weakness of this Titans defense. The secondary will have to make sure Gordon doesn’t slip behind it.
Reach Erik Bacharach at email@example.com and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.
Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (81) celebrates his third-quarter touchdown Monday.