Detroit Lions Week Two Preview: Tennessee Titans

Sep 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lions won 39-35. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lions won 39-35. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions will look to start 2-0 on Sunday as they take on the Tennessee Titans in their 2016 home opener at Ford Field.

The Detroit Lions (1-0) will play host to the Tennessee Titans (0-1) on Sunday as they look to stay atop the NFC North in their home opener.

The Rundown

The Titans are ranked near the bottom of most power rankings after going 3-13 in 2015, but there is some potential on this team. Last year’s anemic rushing game was immediately bolstered by the additions of established pro DeMarco Murray and second-round rookie Derrick Henry this offseason. Receiver Tajae Sharpe looked good in his first game with Tennesee, and along with former Miami Dolphin Rishard Matthews should give second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota options in the passing game along with reliable tight end Delanie Walker. The offensive line is still a work in progress; three of the Titans’ starters are their last three first-round draft picks.

Jurrell Casey is one of the league’s top interior defensive linemen and is flanked by Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan in the Titans’ 3-4 front. The secondary is probably this team’s biggest question mark, as they lack depth and a true number-one corner.

The Lions are coming off the successful debut of CooterballMatthew Stafford looked outstanding in commanding the new offense in a 39-35 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Lions spread the ball around and were effective on the ground game, something they struggled with mightily last season. Defensively, however, the secondary looked poor and the pass rush was inconsistent as they let the Colts back into the game in the second half.

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Injury Report: Levy doubtful, Titans missing two

After having everyone healthy last week, the Lions might be without one of their most important players on Sunday, as starting linebacker DeAndre Levy was listed on Friday’s injury report as doubtful after not practicing all week. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) is listed as questionable but fully participated in practice on Friday. Cornerback Adairius Barnes (ankle) and tight end Cole Wick (shoulder) were both limited on Friday and are also questionable.

Only two Tennesee players were listed on the injury report this week. TItans linebacker Derrick Morgan injured his hamstring in week one against the Minnesota Vikings and is already listed as out for Sunday, as is receiver Kendall Wright, also with a hamstring.

Reserve linebackers to play more

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported earlier this week that although Teryl Austin said he expected Levy to play on Sunday, Kyle Van Noy and rookie Antwione Williams would see larger roles if Levy could not go. Both Levy and Tahir Whitehead played every snap for the Lions against the Colts. Van Noy is expected to play Levy’s position in the nickel package while Williams would fill in at weakside linebacker in the Lions’ base 4-3 defense.

The Lions currently have only five linebackers on the 53-man roster: Levy, Whitehead, Van Noy, Williams and Thurston Armbrister.

New atmosphere at home opener

Bob Quinn’s sweeping changes to Ford Field gamedays will go into full effect on Sunday, with new brighter lights, blue endzones and a cheerleading squad. There will also be a zip line on Adams Street and a $15 four-pound doughnut. Because why not.

Fantasy Football Player To Watch: Matthew Stafford (yes, again)

I picked Stafford last week because of a good matchup and I’m doing it again this week. This Titans secondary is suspect and no one in the Lions’ offense has emerged as the primary target. The entire offense revolves around Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s offense is designed to limit mistakes from the quarterback. Until further notice, Stafford is a QB1.

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Series History:

Tennessee leads the series 4-0 since they became the Titans in 1999. If you count their days as the Houston Oilers, they still lead the series 8-3. The last time these two teams met was in 2012 when Shaun Hill threw that Hail Mary to Titus Young to tie the game on the last play of the fourth quarter, only for the Lions to lose 44-41 in overtime.


The game itself will be played in a dome, obviously, but outside it should be partly cloudy and 78 degrees with a slight chance of rain. Perfect if you want to try out that zipline, I guess.

Betting Line:

The Lions are currently six-point favorites, with the over-under at 47.5. ESPN gives the Lions a 67.9% chance of winning.

Broadcast Information:

The game will be broadcast regionally on CBS throughout Michigan and Tennesee. Here’s the broadcast map. Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein will be on the call.

Dan and Brandy will be on the Lions Radio Network over-the-air throughout the state, or you can catch the game on NFL GamePass if you live out-of-market.

Next: Lions v. Titans Predictions From DJC

In Other NFC North Action:

The rest of the division will play in primetime in week two as the Green Bay Packers (0-1) and Minnesota Vikings (1-0) meet for the first time this season at Minnesota’s new bird deathtrap on Sunday Night Football at 8:30 on NBC.

The Chicago Bears (0-1) will take on rookie Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) on Monday Night Football in a game that probably looked like a better primetime matchup when it was originally scheduled. Kickoff will be at 8:30 on Monday on ESPN.