The Tennessee Titans recovered from a Week 1 letdown and are now 1-1 heading into a home game against the Oakland Raiders. Oakland is also 1-1 and trying to answer some questions at this point in the season.
The Titans had an inauspicious start to the season, losing to the Minnesota Vikings despite not allowing an offensive touchdown. They had some more struggles against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, but Marcus Mariota led the offense on a game-winning drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Andre Johnson for the 16-15 win.
Mike Mularkey's "exotic smashmouth" offense produced better results this time around, with the team getting 139 rushing yards on 24 carries (although most of that came on a 67-yard run by DeMarco Murray). Derrick Henry was a bit more involved with nine carries for 40 yards, but the Titans were still leaning on Murray, who also led the team in receptions with seven.
The Raiders are also 1-1, but they have some concerns of their own. Despite spending a lot of money on the defense this offseason, that unit still looks like a major weakness. Oakland got lit up by the Atlanta Falcons last week, allowing Matt Ryan to throw for 396 yards in a 35-28 loss.
The defense was bad enough to break a 65-year-old record. The 1,035 yards allowed is the most given up in the first two games since the 1951 Yanks. That's a problem, and it's one that Jack Del Rio has to fix quickly if his team hopes to live up to lofty preseason expectations.
One of the big factors in Oakland's defensive collapse has been the lack of impact from Khalil Mack. The third-year linebacker entered the year as a popular pick to win Defensive Player of the Year, but he has zero sacks in the first two games. It's still early in the year, but the Raiders need Mack to get to the quarterback and live up to his potential if they hope to fulfill their preseason expectations.
If Mack has been disappointing, then cornerback Sean Smith has been straight-up disastrous. Signed to a four-year deal worth up to $40 million, Smith has been burned multiple times in the first two games and was even benched at one point in Week 1.
If there's good news for Oakland, it's that Derek Carr continues to look like the real deal. Carr was highly efficient in Week 2, completing 34 of 45 passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He's holding up his end of the bargain and looks to be Oakland's long-awaited answer at franchise quarterback. The big problems are on the other side of the field.
Tennessee's offense is prone to dry stretches, so this game should be a good opportunity for the Raiders to get their defense back on track. Carr and Amari Cooper can't be stuck in shootout games every week, and the Titans' defense looks much improved this year. We should learn a lot more about both of these teams after this game.
How to watch
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Place: Nissan Stadium, Nashville
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Online: Sunday Ticket