Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey said his wife, Betsy, is conflicted on who to root for in Sunday’s game.
Mularkey is in his first full season as Titans coach, while his son, Patrick, is going on his third season with the Detroit Lions as pro scouting coordinator.
“It’s pretty neat,” Mularkey said Wednesday. “I actually asked him yesterday, it never really dawned on me, who my wife and his mom is rooting for to win this game. I haven’t asked her yet, but it’s special because I’m proud of him. Very proud of the job he’s done. I love that he’s in this business because I think he’s really good at what he does. Regardless, I think there’s a win in this somehow, in the outcome of this game.”
With that backdrop, lets get into our Four Keys:
First, the Tennessee Titans have to frustrate Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Last week, Stafford was 31-of-39 for 340 yards and three touchdowns on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. The Lions offense is one of the most multiple and diverse offenses in the National Football League. The Titans need to get Stafford off the spot and make him erratic. Even though, Stafford can move within the pocket, defensive lineman Jerrell Casey linebacker Brian Orakpo and the Titans defense must affect the quarterback.
Secondly, the Titans cannot commit any turnovers. This is a staple of any game plan. Tennessee has a ball control offense that is built around “Exotic Smashmouth Football” deployed by quarterback Marcus Mariota and running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. In last week’s game against the Vikings, the Titans were in the game until Minnesota scored two defensive touchdowns.
The third key is the matchup between left tackle Taylor Lewan and Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Two of the best young players at their respective positions will face off this Sunday. Lewan is enthusiastically looking forward to going against the speedy edge rusher.
“I always look forward to those things,” Lewan said Wednesday. “If you want to be one of the best players, you have to play against the best and playing the left side every single week you’re going up against the best rusher. So I consider it a huge opportunity and I obviously cannot wait. I take a lot of pride in playing left tackle and what I do and where I play and how I do it.”
Lastly, the Titans must contain the Lions running back combo of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. Riddick caught five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield as well as ran for 45 yards on seven carries last week against the Colts. Meanwhile, Abdullah ran for 63 yards on twelve carries last week. Their combined average is 5.68 yards per rush. These guys are Stafford’s best friend because they help keep defenses honest. If the Titans win Sunday, they will have to contain these two running backs and should keep this game in the mid twenties.
The Tennessee Titans will play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field this Sunday. Kickoff is at 1:00pm. The game will be broadcast on CBS with Andrew Catalon on the play-by-play while Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein providing commentary. Brad Allen will be the referee.