Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season has the potential for plenty of fireworks at Lumen Field on Sunday. The Tennessee Titans (0-1) and the Seattle Seahawks (1-0) will square off for a critical early-season, cross-conference matchup. These teams last met in 2017 in Nashville, with Tennessee holding off the Seahawks for a 33-27 victory.
Head coach Mike Vrabel and the Titans' coaching staff will probably want to burn the tape after a 38-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in their home opener. Tennessee had zero answers for Kyler Murray as he threw for 289 yards and accounted for all five touchdowns. The offensive line couldn't contain an aggressive Arizona defense that collected six sacks. Chandler Jones alone had five of them and had his way with left tackle Taylor Lewan and others along the offensive line. Two-time defending rushing champion Derrick Henry couldn't get on track as he was limited to just 58 yards on 17 carries.
Seattle went into Lucas Oil Stadium and handled their business in a 28-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's scheme was on display for the first time, and the Seahawks' attack looked both diverse and balanced. The team ran the ball 27 times for 140 yards led by Chris Carson's 91 yards on 16 carries. Russell Wilson looked at ease, completing 18 of 23 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Punter Michael Dickson did his part by landing four punts inside the 20-yard line. As for the defense, Seattle got after Carson Wentz, registering 10 quarterback hits and three sacks. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks were all over the field as they combined for 24 tackles. Jamal Adams is back healthy and collected six tackles while adding a nice infusion of energy to the defense.
Tennessee at Seattle
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 19 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -6
Three Things to Watch
1. Can the Seahawks' offense build off a strong opening performance?
Wilson's eyes should light up this week when he looks across the line of scrimmage and sees a very vulnerable Titans defense. Wilson should be able to control tempo like a point guard and keep Tennessee on its heels. The offensive line must build off a solid opening week and continue to avoid unnecessary negative plays. Carson will need to attack from the opening snap and impose his will on the Tennessee defense by the time the second half rolls around. DK Metcalf had a quiet opening week with four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown on just five targets. Metcalf should expect to see some early throws from Wilson to get him rolling confidence-wise. Third down is another storyline to watch as Seattle was a solid 4-for-9 last week against Indianapolis. The goal for Sunday should be a 55 to 65 percent conversion rate to try and keep the Tennessee offense off the field.
2. Will Tennessee's skill players start living up to the preseason hype?
There was a lot of hype in the offseason about the Titans' offense heading into the 2021 season. The addition of Julio Jones energized the Tennessee fan base and elevated the offseason hype about this team. Last week, there was a lack of urgency from the offense from the opening snap. That lack of focus was alarming because the offense acted as if the Titans had already punched their ticket to the Super Bowl instead of hitting the ground running on offense.
A.J. Brown, Derek Henry, and Jones must step up this week to avoid starting in an 0-2 hole. Look for new offensive coordinator Todd Downing to get Ryan Tannehill some quick, easy throws to Brown and Jones to open things up for Henry in the running game and take some steam out of Seattle's pass rush. One thing that can't happen is dumb penalties like the one Jones had for unnecessary roughness in the first quarter that turned a 3rd-and-1 into a 3rd-and-16 and forced a Tennessee punt while trailing 10-0. Vrabel called out Jones publicly for the mistake. It will be interesting to see if that has any effect on Jones or the team as a whole.
3. Special teams
The Seahawks will have a significant advantage with Dickson and kicker Jason Myers. The element of special teams doesn't get talked about enough, as it can turn the direction of any game very quickly. Dickson will need to keep the Titans pinned back and force them to drive down a long field. There is no doubt about Tennessee's explosiveness on offense, but the question remains whether the unit will be able to overcome poor field position and still light up the scoreboard. Tennessee left more points on the board due to their ineptness at kicker. Michael Badgley was the latest kicker to be released after missing an extra point and a 46-yard field goal. This week the Titans have turned to Randy Bullock to try and stabilize the kicker spot. If you include the 2019 season, the Titans have gone through 10 kickers, so this has been a sore spot for some time. The bottom line is that Seattle should be able to exploit its advantage on special teams and that will make things that much easier for the offense and defense.
The atmosphere on Sunday in Lumen Field should be electric as the 12s will be more than ready to get back at it and bringing the noise. The Seahawks have been tough to beat in home openers over the years, winning 17 of the past 18. The only such loss in this stretch was back in 2008 to division rival San Francisco. Tennessee will come out and put up more of a fight this week and keep this game interesting for about a half. However, Wilson and the Seattle offense will wear down the Titans' defense in the second half. The Seahawks will improve to 2-0 and win this game by two scores, giving the 12s a nice welcome back present.