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The preseason is gone and now everything counts. Gone are the excuses, the vanilla offenses and learning curves. On Sunday, we will finally find out the identity of the Tennessee Titans...or that they still don't have one.
The Titans couldn't have asked for more in terms of having to open the season on the road at one of the tougher stadiums to play. They are catching a break by not having to worry about Dwayne Bowe, arguably their best weapon in the passing game. They have Dexter McCluster and Ryan Succop on their squad, each just a season or less removed from playing under Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. They know his system and better yet, they know the mental make-up of players in that locker room.
But perhaps most-favorable is the fact the pressure is all on Kansas City. They're the ones coming off a playoff season which started flawlessly. They're the ones with an elite running back and a coach who has proved he is among the best in the league.
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The Titans are a question mark. Nobody knows what to expect from this team. The question is if they do?
Everything will need to start up front on the defense. If the preseason is any type of barometer, they have no chance of winning unless they stop the run. On the bright side, the run is really all this defense needs to fear. With Bowe sidelined, this passing attack isn't going to strike fear into Bernard Pollard and company. They have one mission...stop Jamaal Charles at all costs.
Where things will be decided is on offense for the Titans. Take a look at the trio of Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington. There are few teams which have three legitimate wideouts capable of scoring from any point on the field. Take a closer look and you'll find it really boils down to Jake Locker.
He might still look like a one-read and run guy, but he has also taken ownership of this team. He has looked more comfortable in Whisenhunt's system with each preseason game and looks to have found that even-keel mentality needed to be at the helm. If he can limit turnovers and manage this offense, the Titans can pull off a Week 1 road win against a playoff team.
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Expect this to be a close game. The irony is this could all boil down to a field goal by the very man who was wearing a Chiefs jersey just a week before. But it won't happen unless the defensive front shows progress and Locker limits mistakes. It won't happen unless we see improvement from the preseason.
If the Titans come back home winners however, it could do wonders for their confidence and growth. It could tell us exactly who they are and give us an identity. Even better, they would know who they are as a team...and where they're going.
--Follow Blaine "The Hitman" Bishop on Twitter @bbishop23 and get his take on all things sports on Sportsblog.com
|08/09||Titans||Green Bay Packers||LP Field-7pm (Preseason)||W: 20-16|
|08/15||Saints||Titans||Mercedes-Benz Superdome- 70m (Preseason)||L: 31-24|
|08/23||Falcons||Titans||Georgia Dome- 6pm (Preseason)||W: 24-17|
|08/28||Titans||Vikings||LP Field- 7pm (Preseason)||L: 19-3|
|09/07||K.C. Chiefs||Titans||Arrowhead- 12pm (Regular Season Starts)||W: 26-10|
|09/14||Titans||Dallas Cowboys||LP Field- 12pm (Home Opener on FOX 17)||Loss: 26-10|
|09/21||Cincinnati Bengals||Titans||Paul Brown Stadium- 12pm||Loss: 33-7|
|09/28||Indianapolis Colts||Titans||Lucas Oil Stadium- 12pm||Loss: 41-17|
|10/05||Titans||Cleveland Browns||LP Field- 12pm||Loss: 29-28|
|10/12||Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||LP Field- 12pm||Win: 16-14|
|10/19||Washington Redskins||Titans||FedEx Field- 12pm||TBD|
|10/26||Titans||Houston Texans||LP Field- 12pm||TBD|
|11/09||Baltimore Ravens||Titans||M&T Bank Stadium- 12pm||TBD|
|11/17||Titans||Pittsburgh Steelers||LP- 7:30pm (Monday Night Football)||TBD|
|11/23||Philadelphia Eagles||Titans||Lincoln Financial Field- 12pm||TBD|
|11/30||Houston Texans||Titans||NRG Stadium- 12pm||TBD|
|12/07||Titans||N.Y. Giants||LP Field- 12pm (On FOX 17)||TBD|
|12/14||Titans||N.Y. Jets||LP Field- 3:05pm||TBD|
|12/18||Jacksonville Jaguars||Titans||EverBank Field- 7:35pm (Thursday Night Football)||TBD|
|12/28||Titans||Indianapolis Colts||LP Field- 12pm||TBD|
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