Week 9 Game Preview: Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

Tennessee Titans (4-4) at San Diego Chargers (3-5)

Sunday November 6, 2016 1:25 PM CBS

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California


The San Diego Chargers are hosting the Tennessee Titans this Sunday, fresh off their disappointing loss at the hands of the Denver Broncos.

Once again, the team failed to execute when the game was on the line, and another game was basically given away. Coach McCoy and his staff made some head-scratching moves last week, and to top it off, the Chargers once again lost players to injury. Both have been common themes in this 2016 season. Injuries, and a complete lack of fundamentals, are what this team is known for at the moment.

But…  is there light at the end of the tunnel?

The Chargers are about to start a stretch of games against less than stellar opponents. Sure, the Titans are at 4-4 on the season, however they have yet to play a real formidable foe on the road. Not that the Chargers are in the upper echelon of the league, but a road game across the country will be a huge test for these youngsters.

With Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown both banged up, it looks to be a tough day for the defense. Both LBs are not expected to play, and that hurts the squad big time. Both young playmakers have emerged this year and finding someone to duplicate their contributions will be a difficult task. Someone will need to step up to fill the void.

This looks to be a difficult game for the Chargers, as the Titans will not be bullied. They have a defensive line that likes to get to the QB, and the Chargers’ offensive line will be tested.

Chargers on Offense

Feeding Melvin Gordon will be key to the game as the Chargers need a balanced attack to beat the Titans. Derek Watt had a nice pass catch last week in the first quarter. With skill like that, the team could use him more in the offense this week. The Bolts have banged-up players like Tyrell Williams, Hunter Henry, and Travis Benjamin. Each practiced in a limited capacity this week to some degree. The Chargers are hurt and the injuries just continue to pile up. Rivers remains the solid rock that he is. The quarterback is amazing as far as his longevity and health go.

Philip Rivers at home means that the team will get to the line with plenty of opportunity to audible out of plays. Putting him in that play-calling position is, and always will be, the best way for the Chargers to succeed. He is like having a coach on the field. Expect plenty of late play changes, as he constantly finds the mismatch on the field. That could be anyone; Derek Watt out of the backfield, Hunter Henry down the seam, or Dontrelle Inman one-on-one on the outside. Expect big plays and a frustrated Titans defense at times during this game.

Chargers on Defense

With Brown and Perryman out, the Chargers will need Korey Toomer and Nick Dzubnar to step up. Keep an eye on Joshua Perry, who was slowed early in the season, but has come on strong during his special teams play. The fourth-round selection has nice size (6′ 4″) and could help with the containment of Murray in and around the holes. He was actually selected a round before Jatavis Brown, so this could be his big opportunity to shine. Toomer was on the Raiders practice squad to begin the year. The young LB has shown great instincts in his minimal opportunities. The Chargers, thankfully, have some depth at the position, but it is getting shallower. Another injury at the inside linebacker position and the Chargers might have to sign someone off the street. Not a good thing.

Look for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to get pressure from the outside of the pocket. The safetie’s play has to improve if the Chargers want to seriously make a playoff run. The return of Jahleel Addae seems close, so perhaps he will be the source of more consistent play from the position. Casey Hayward has been consistent all year long, and the return of Brandon Flowers helped last week in Denver. Expect the Chargers’ defense to be fired up on Sunday as the team rocks their baby blue uniforms. It will be an intense game.

Players to Watch

DeMarco Murray:  He will be utilized as long as he is healthy. Word early in the week was that he will split carries with Derrick Ward to some degree. Murray practiced fully on Thursday and seems ready to go at full speed on Sunday. His toe injury could flare up at any time though. Murray will break some big runs, but the Chargers must gang-tackle him and not allow him to break into the open field constantly.

Melvin Gordon:  The bruising running back looks to keep his season rolling this week against the Titans. He is also a pass catching threat now and teams can no longer view him as a one-dimensional back. Gordon will be used on most third down opportunities for the Chargers on Sunday. Dexter McCluster might get a carry here and there, but most of the runs will go to Gordon. He just needs to be fed the rock.

Marcus Mariota:  The Titans’ quarterback issues have been solved, as Mariota looks to be a decent QB for the franchise. He is still learning the system, and with that, there are going to be some inevitable bumps in the road. He is a decent young quarterback who also can surprise you with his mobility. Against the Chargers on Sunday, he will be tested with constant pressure. The game will essentially be in his hands. Hopefully, he still has some maturing to do.

Joey Bosa: What a phenom he has been in his first four games this season. He is pressuring the QB like no other, and is gaining praise from the whole NFL community. Expect a big game on Sunday. One sack for sure, perhaps two. He will also earn a handful of tackles as he jumps on DeMarco Murray a few times and wrestles him down. Bosa is the real deal, and the holdout and injury issue to start the year is just a thing of the past.

Matchup to Watch

DeMarco Murray vs The Chargers Defensive Front

With the loss of both talented young linebackers, the pressure will be on Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget, and company to contain the running back. That will be no easy task as the offensive tackles on the Titans front are very good. Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin are bruisers, and very physical up front. Murray cannot run wild on the Chargers and control the clock. The Chargers must win the time of possession battle, and stopping Murray is the key to that.


The Chargers need to stop DeMarco Murray in order to win this game, and that’s exactly what they will do for the most part. Murray will get some yards, but overall, the defense will be able to contain him. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will not allow Mariota to be comfortable in the pocket, but yet the two missing LBs (Perryman and Brown) in the middle make the day uncomfortable for Chargers’ fans. In the end, the Chargers pull away in the fourth quarter on their way to a 33-24 victory.

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