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Scouting the Schedule: Week 9 vs. Tennessee Titans

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Will the New Orleans Saints be marching into this game healthy and competitive?

Brandon Coleman on the move!
Brandon Coleman on the move!
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints face the Tennessee Titans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, November 8th. This game will represent the start of the 3rd quarter of the season and pivotal point as the Saints will head out on the road to face the Redskins, rest for a bye week then back out to face the Texans.

Series Match-up All-Time

Saints  5 - Titans/Oilers 7, 1 Tie

Last 5 Games

(2011-2012) Saints 22, Titans 17 @ Tenn

(2007-2008) Saints 14, Titans 31 @ N.O.

(2003-2004) Saints 12, Titans 27 @ Tenn

(1999-2000) Saints 21, Titans 24 @ N.O.

(1996-1997) Saints 14,Titans 31 @ N.O.

This series dates back to the days of the Houston Oilers. The team from Tennessee with roots in Houston has recently held control of the series, winning 4 of the last 5 matches. Seemingly meeting every 3 or 4 years, there is very little familiarity as the teams occasionally meet in inter-conference play. The Titans will be breaking in a rookie QB Marcus Mariotta, while the Saints will be counting on Drew Brees to carry the day. The last top-rated, 2nd QB selected to come to N.O. walked out with a win. Can the Saints shake the rookie QB jinx against Mariota?

2014-2015 Titans Totals

(Saints #1 total offense, #31 total defense according to ESPN)

Total Offense # 10th

Passing/YPG # 11th

Rushing/YPG # 15th

Total Defense #  27th

Passing/YPG # 15th

Rushing/YPG # 31st

Projected Rosters


Saints

Titans


Offense

QB

Drew Brees

Marcus Mariota


Luke McCown

Zack Mettenberger


Garrett Grayson

Charlie Whitehurst

RB

Mark Ingram

Bishop Sankey

CJ Spiller

Dexter McCluster


Khiry Robinson

Antonio Andrews

WR

Brandin Cooks

Kendall Wright


Marques Colston

Harry Douglas


Brandon Coleman

Justin Hunter

TE

Benjamin Watson

Anthony Fasano

Josh Hill

Jalston Fowler

LT

Terron Armstead

Taylor Lewan

LG

Tim Lelito

Byron Bell

C

Max Unger

Brian Schwenke

RG

Jahri Evans

Chance Warmack

RT

Zach Strief

Jeremiah Poutasi


Defense

LDE

Akiem Hicks

DaQuan Jones

NT/LDT

Kevin Williams

NT/RDT

Jon Jenkins (4-3)
Sammie Hill

RDE

Cam Jordan

Jurrell Casey

LOLB

Hau'oli Kikaha

Derrick Morgan

LILB

Stephone Anthony

Zach Brown

RILB

Dannell Ellerbe (3-4)

Avery Williamson

ROLB

Anthony Spencer

Brian Orakpo

LCB

Keenan Lewis (P)

Perrish Cox

RCB

Brandon Browner

Jason McCourty

NCB

Delvin Breaux

Coty Sensabaugh

SS

Kenny Vaccaro

Da'Norris Searcy

FS

Jairus Byrd

Michael Griffin


Special Teams

K

Dustin Hopkins

Ryan Succop

P

Thomas Morstead

Brett Kern

Key Titans

Offense

Marcus Mariota -The #2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft starts 2015 in a comfort zone, he's been named starter (according to Titansonline.com) and knows it's his job to lose. At this point in the season, I can reasonably say there are two possible situations that Mariota can find himself in: 1) He's doing well and has made good on the early announcement of being the starter or 2) He's struggled mightily and been benched for Zak Mettenberger as ruin-prevention. Not sure which guy I'd personally prefer the Saints to face as Mettenberger has lit the D up once and Mariota may continue the rookie QB roasting that seems common against the Saints D. Only time will tell, but I'm figuring Mariota will still be under center by week 9.

Harry Douglas - Fresh off of a strong 2013 and decent 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons, wide receiver Harry Douglas followed opportunity to Tennessee. I consider him to be a key member of the Titans offense because he is familiar with the Saints. This will help the offense in identifying a few little details that only a long time division rival would pick up on. At the end of the day, Douglas may simply be a number 2 to Kendall Wright and a place-holder until Dorial Green-Beckham takes the starting job or Hakeem Nicks slips into the No. 2 role.

The Runningbacks - The Titans do not have what would be considered an every-down or work-horse back. Bishop Sankey started 9 games for Tennessee and appeared in all 16, but only amassed 551 yards and 2 TDs. Dexter McCluster is Sankey's most notable backup and that could prove to hurt the Titans ground game down the stretch. This offense is built to pass in its current form and that doesn't bode well for a Saints defense that has struggles with pass defense.

Defense

Brian Orakpo - Orakpo was scooped up from free agency in this past off-season by the Titans to add some pass rush to their defensive unit. Orakpo has 40 sacks in 6 seasons, but averages no less than 8.5 when he plays a full season. Injuries have been a bit of an issue for Orakpo, costing him 22 games combined from 2012 and 2014 due to pectoral tears. If the Titans gamble on Orakpo's healing pays off, he could potentially give Zach Strief or Terron Armstead hell in week 9.

Perrish Cox - The Titans seemed to be intent on bringing in new blood to kick-start their 2015 season. Besides Douglas, Orakpo, and Hakeem Nicks, they also signed cornerback Perrish Cox. Perrish had his best season in the NFL in 2014 as the San Francisco 49ers experienced a great deal of injuries to the secondary and he was forced into action. Cox may be most remembered by Saints fans as the out-matched DB who Jimmy Graham pushed aside and made a TD grab on a play that was flagged for offensive pass interference. Now he'll get to face a rejuvenated Drew Brees and Saints offense that appears to mean business in 2015. Cox is a decent CB who could hold his own in this one, but expect Brees to test him short and deep.

TL;DR

To put it mildly, the Tennessee Titans are rebuilding. To be blunt, right now the prospects are slim and they suck at every phase of the game. That being said, this is a team that could roll into The Dome and flat out beat the Saints (as a representation of the one stinker our boys lay each season). Hopefully the veteran leaders that were brought into New Orleans this off-season will not allow the team to lose focus and let an inferior team beat them at home.

Feedback on depth chart and other bits of information to include in this series is appreciated.