The Tennessee Titans’ rushing defense has made it possible for the team to sport their current 3-1 record, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have pretty much made it to 3-2 with a stout defense of their own. These similarities will make for an interesting matchup when they hook up at Raymond James Stadium Sunday.
The Titans, as opposed to last year, have greatly improved on their defense, allowing only 275.8 yards per game. Proof positive of the Titans’ improvement on defense – they held the Atlanta Falcons to 198 total yards (99 passing and rushing). The Titans’ offense relies on the dramatics of quarterback Vince Young (62-of-100, 583 yards, 3 TD’s, 5 INT’s; 29 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD); while his numbers aren’t special, he somehow finds ways to win. But the heart of their offense is the 2-headed running attack, led by running back Chris Brown (52-274-1 TD) and LenDale White (62-212-2 TD’s). The Titans’ defense is one that is successful due to a collective effort, as opposed to one or two players. Linebacker Keith Bulluck (20 tackles, 17 solo, 3 INT’s) leads a stout defense, while LB David Thornton (30 tackles, 23 solo, 1 INT) provides ample backup.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have been successful somewhat because of their pass defense (ranked #9 overall). Their offense has been problematic, save for the possible exception of QB Jeff Garcia (76-of-113, 914 yards, 4 TD’s, zero INT’s) who is having a strong campaign thus far, and wide receivers Joey Galloway (18-306-2 TD) and Ike Hilliard (23-304). Hilliard, incidently, is listed as questionable, so that may prove to be a fprmidable hurdle for Garcia to overcome. The running attack is their major problem as both RB’s Carnell Williams (out for year – knee) and Michael Pittman (ankle sprain – 6 to 8 weeks). The rushing chores will fall into the lap of Earnest Graham, unfortunately since there’s no reliable support. Their pass defense will to an extent try to give their offense opportunities to score. While no one player stands out, the Bucs are successful on pass defense due to a collective effort.
Expect this game be to relatively low-scoring as defense should be the order of the day here. Expect the Titans’ pass rush to be productive, sacking Garcia with some regularity. On the other hand, Brown and White should have a decent game vs. the Bucs’ D-line. The Titans will win a hard-fought, close game; I don’t expect 40 points to be scored in this contest.