Six Points: Titans vs. Saints

The Tennessee Titans (1-6) are looking to find a spark to turn their season around. As for the New Orleans Saints (4-4), they may have found that spark, winning their last three games in a row, including a crazy 52-49 shootout against the New York Giants.

The Titans, who haven't picked up a victory since Week 1, recently fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt, and handed the keys over to interim head coach Mike Mularkey. There will likely be plenty of changes on the horizon for the Titans, but will they be enough defensively to slow down Drew Brees and the red-hot Saints offense?

Here are three keys to the game for both the Titans and Saints.

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1. Keep Marcus Mariota upright

The Titans quarterback has been sacked 19 times in the five games he's played, while the Tennessee offensive line has allowed an NFL-high 28 sacks. Mularkey has said he intends to improve the team's pass protection for Mariota. He'd better, as the rookie offers Tennessee's best chance to put points on the scoreboard. If the Titans are to keep up with the high-powered Saints' offense, Mariota can't be under siege all day.

2. Pressure Brees

Brees threw for 505 yards in a vintage performance last week, completing an incredible 78 percent of his passes. The Titans have the NFL's third-best pass defense, giving up just 197.9 yards per game, but if they're to have success slowing down the Saints offense, the Tennessee pass rush needs to force Brees into making quick throws even if they can't sack him. He's likely complete them, as he often does, but if he's forced to make shorter, quicker throws, it lessens the potential for big plays.

3. Give Antonio Andrews a chance

One of Mularkey's first moves after taking over was to tell the second-year running back Andrews that he's now the team's No. 1 back. The Saints give up an average of 123.9 yards per game on the ground, ninth worst in the league. The Titans need give Andrews a full workload on Sunday as the team looks to generate offensive momentum any way it can.


1. Don't give Mariota time to work

The Saints have allowed a whopping 20 touchdowns this season to opposing quarterbacks, while only picking off four passes. They've also given up 2,386 yards through the air. The worst thing New Orleans can do on Sunday is give the rookie quarterback time to survey the field. The Saints have totaled 19 sacks to this point in 2015, so if they can rack up a few against Mariota, it could help out those woeful numbers against quarterbacks.

2. Get Benjamin Watson going early and often

While the Titans have actually been strong defensively in 2015, one of their weaknesses is defending opposing tight ends. So far in 2015, Tennessee has given up 342 yards and four touchdowns to opposing tight ends. With Watson having scored three touchdowns over the past four games, while also topping 127 yards in two of the last three games, this could be another big game for the veteran tight end.

3. Figure out where Mariota is going early, and send Delvin Breaux in that direction

The Titans' top receiver, Kendall Wright, is dealing with a sprained MCL currently. Whether he plays or not in this game, it's going to be pretty obvious right out of the gate where Mariota is sending his early looks. Whoever that receiver is, Breaux needs to be guarding in man coverage. The former Canadian Football League standout has made a strong transition to the NFL, and will have no issue locking down one of Tennessee's receivers.