The Titans have had a less than optimal start to their season as they are currently one of just six 0-2 teams left in the NFL. They haven’t been competitive in either of their first 2 games and possess the league’s worst point differential at -49. However, they’ve had a very tough schedule early in the season and things are looking up, especially in the passing game. 1st time starting quarterback Jake Locker hasn’t been great in his first 2 games, completing 61.3% of his passes for an average of 6.5 YPA and 2 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, but he’s been working with a receiving corps that’s seen far too much of rookie Kendall Wright and mediocre talent Damian Williams, who lead the unit in snaps played.
This week, Locker will have Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, arguably his top 2 receivers, back at full strength. Britt missed the opener with suspension and then was on a snap count last week, playing just 19 snaps. Washington left the opener with an injury and then was on a snap count last week, playing just 22 snaps. This week, both are much closer to full strength and will not be on a snap count. Expect both to be starters, leaving Kendall Wright in the slot as a 3rd receiver.
Britt has caught 56 passes for 1146 yards and 12 touchdowns over his last 13 full games over the last 2 seasons. Only 24, he should be able to bounce back from a pretty major injury. Meanwhile, Washington was their leading receiver last year in Britt’s absence, catching 74 passes for 1023 yards and 7 touchdowns. Between those two, the rookie Wright in the slot, and tight end Jared Cook, an above average pass catcher, Locker will have one of the better receiving corps in the NFL. Facing a banged up Detroit secondary that wasn’t very good to begin with, he should be able to move the ball much easier this week than in recent weeks now in his 3rd NFL start. He should also get much more help from Chris Johnson this week. Johnson has been prone to dud performances in the last 2 years, but he’s destroyed bad run defenses, rushing for 100 yards in 4 of 5 games against run defenses ranked in the bottom 3rd last season. Detroit ranked 30th.
The bad news for the Titans is that 2nd year linebacker Colin McCarthy will also miss this week. The young linebacker is the leader of their defense and they have definitely missed him as they’ve been torched in each of their first 2 games. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers have represented tough challenges so far for this defense, but Matt Stafford and the Lions aren’t exactly a walk in the park. It remains to be seen if their young defense (8 of 11 starters drafted since 2009) can find their 2011 form (8th in scoring defense) now without Cortland Finnegan (signed in St. Louis) and McCarthy (injured). This game figures to be a high scoring one, but the Titans may be able to pull the upset at home over the Lions if the Lions come in flat off an emotional week 2 loss to the 49ers and expect to walk all over the “lowly” Titans.