After a wild Week 10 which saw fourth-quarter comebacks, stunning upsets and some of the season’s best football, the NFL gears up for a Week 11 which promises to be just as exciting. Kicking things off, we have the Titans marching into Green Bay for their third-ever primetime showdown.
Both teams have much at stake sliding through the back half of the season. Tennessee looks to maintain control over the volatile AFC South, while Green Bay set its sights on a possible wild card berth. Uncertainty hangs over both teams right now, so here are three storylines worth paying attention to on Thursday Night Football:
Titans vs Packers: Has Aaron Rodgers found his WR #1?
The Green Bay Packers seemed like the Packers of old this past Sunday, rallying to stun the Dallas Cowboys in overtime. Green Bay came back from being down 28-14 in the fourth quarter, to eventually win 31-28 in overtime. How did Rodgers and the Pack manage such an incredible feat? Allow me to introduce you to Christian Watson.
Drafted in the second round from North Dakota St. the rookie wide receiver caught four passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Watson’s performance came out of nowhere. Up until this point, the rookie had never totaled more than 34 yards in a game and had yet to catch his first touchdown. For Rodgers, it was the spark he had been looking for. The quarterback targeted Watson eight times throughout the night, relying heavily on the rookie.
Can Watson keep his production up? Green Bay sure hopes so. Watson’s three touchdowns on Sunday ties him as second on the team for most receiving touchdowns this season (Allen Lazard boasts five while Romeo Doubs and Aaron Jones both have three). If Watson can continue to act as a spark plug for their offense, then Green Bay may turn their season around.
Titans vs Packers: Are the Titans contenders or pretenders?
Tennessee is 6-3, and in first place in the AFC South. If the season ended today they would host a playoff game during Wild Card Weekend. But they still have yet to prove themselves. Take a look at their six wins. Las Vegas, Indianapolis (twice), Washington, Houston and Denver. Not exactly a “who’s who” in the NFL right now. They own a combined record of 15-30-2.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s three losses come against real playoff contenders (Buffalo, New York and Kansas City). By coming up short each time against winning teams, Tennessee has raised doubts about its legitimacy. The Titans have benefited from the ease of playing six games against the AFC South for the past few years. But each year they fall short of the ultimate goal, the Super Bowl.
Any team with Derrick Henry should not be taken lightly, but considering how banged up the rest of the roster is, this game could get away from the Titans. A win against the Green Bay Packers, regardless of their current record, could propel this Titans team down the stretch. Thursday has all the makings of a “prove it game” for Mike Vrabel’s team.
Titans vs Packers: Will the game be won through the air or on the ground?
Green Bay and Tennessee could not be more different, and I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about defense. The Titans hang their hats on a staunch run defense, while the Packers have been solidly patrolling the pass. Their weaknesses lie in each other’s strengths. Tennessee has allowed the 4th most pass yards in the league. Green Bay has allowed the 5th most rushing yards.
Both teams will look to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. If Tennessee can sufficiently feed Derrick Henry, they could wear down this Green Bay defense. If Aaron Rodgers can spread the ball then opportunities are bound to present themselves. Neither team can afford to ignore these chances.
The Titans cannot lean on their quarterback play. Whether Tannehill or Willis is under center, Green Bay will feast. Mike Vrabel must play “smash-mouth” football. Henry up the gut. Perhaps mix in QB-designed runs for Willis. However they can move the ball on the ground, so they better do it.
The Packers have to do what they did last week. Take chances through the air. Get the ball in the hands of their playmakers. Just because Tennessee stops the run, it doesn’t mean Green Bay should avoid their running backs.
If Aaron Jones and A.J Dillon can become factors in the passing game, then the Packers may notch a second straight win. Thursday Night Football could be another exciting edition of primetime football. Which team will come out on top? Only time will tell.