Packers Periscope: Week 16 vs Tennessee Titans

A preview of the Packers week 16 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. 

The Green Bay Packers are looking to extend a four-game winning streak, but more importantly, they are looking to maintain control of the number one seed in the NFC. If they win out, there’s nothing to worry about. However, the Packers must first get through the 10-4 Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football.

The last time Green Bay faced Tennessee, it was an utter embarrassment. In their 2016 matchup, the Packers trailed by as much as 25 points before losing 47 to 25.

Green Bay turned the ball over three times that day, which can’t happen again. The Packers are undefeated in games this season in which they haven’t turned the ball over.  Four years ago, Rodgers threw two interceptions. He’s thrown four all year in 2020.

The defense also had a less than stellar day in their previous meeting. Marcus Mariota threw four touchdowns and finished with a quarterback rating of 93.6. Meanwhile, the Titans rushing attacked was operating at full strength as DeMarco Murray carried the ball 17 times for 123 yards, including a rushing touchdown. It was Derrick Henry’s rookie season as he ended the game with nine carries for 31 yards.

Henry is going to get a lot more than nine carries when these two teams meet up on Sunday. Henry leads all running backs in rush attempts this year by 24 carries. He is also first in yards at 1,679 and tied for first with 15 rushing touchdowns.

Tennessee’s offense might be led by Henry, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill is having one of his best seasons to date. He’s thrown 31 touchdowns to just five interceptions and is also completing over 66 percent of his passes. When looking at Henry, Tannehill, and the threats the Titans have at receiver, Green Bay’s defense needs to have a meaningful performance against the number two ranked offense. The run defense can only hope to contain Henry, but in the same breath, their ability to defend the pass will be tested as well.

The good news is, Tennessee’s defense has been below average in 2020. While they are tied for the NFL lead in turnover differential, they will be rolling out the 27th ranked defense to try and stop Aaron Rodgers. According to the dope sheet, Rodgers has thrown 16 touchdowns (No. 1 in the NFL), zero interceptions, and a passer rating of 132.7 (No. 1 in the NFL, min. 25 pass att.) in prime-time games this season.

Also working against them, the Titans have struggled mightily to rush the quarterback this year. Their total of 14 sacks as a team in 2020 is dead last in the NFL. An unphased Rodgers in the pocket this week could be deadly, but the Packers need to start fast to avoid going down early.

If they trail early on, Tennessee will allow Henry to wear this defense down. However, if Green Bay captures the lead and holds onto it, it will certainly help limit Henry’s touches.

The Titans’ defense also hasn’t been great against the run this season. They are allowing 114.5 rushing yards per game in 2020, and Packers running back Aaron Jones is coming off a 145-yard performance against the Carolina Panthers.

Green Bay could have center Corey Linsley back this week, who would only prop up the rushing attack. Linsley has missed the last three games with a knee and remains on injured reserve. 

The Packers should be treating this like a playoff game with the regular season coming to an end. Tennessee is a worthy opponent and a better representation of what they will face in the playoffs. A poor performance Sunday night could diminish Green Bay’s confidence a tad even with the number one seed still in play. 

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

4 points

Comments (13)

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splitpea1's picture

December 25, 2020 at 04:02 pm

That 2016 game was the only time I've ever abandoned the Packers before halftime; I can't stand watching that sort of thing.

If we win the coin toss, take the ball. And score a touchdown. Repeat on every drive.

Other notes: The Titans are also the worst team in allowing third down conversions....I read somewhere they have trouble on crossing routes, so we might see more of that with Adams....Titans have Adoree Jackson back, but he could be rusty....Our LBs have their work cut out for them not only up front, but the Titans have four TE's, all of whom have caught touchdowns (J. Smith has 7).

A "bend but don't break" effort from our defense would be a godsend here, as well as mistake-free outings from the special teams; we get those, and we win.

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Swisch's picture

December 25, 2020 at 07:01 pm

This game is exciting! Prime time. National audience. Two top teams.
I hope our players cherish the opportunity. They practice and practice and practice and practice and practice. . . and then once in a while get an opportunity to perform in the spotlight.
As a fan, I don't want to be too hard nor too easy on the defense. I don't expect them to shut down the Titans.
What I'm looking for is focused energy and exuberant discipline. In other words, play hard, play smart, and have fun.
I hope our defensive coordinator lets these guys be aggressive at times, with a mix of blitzes and tight coverages. Try different ways of clogging the middle, including run blitzes. Enjoy the various strategies. Keep the Titans offense guessing.
This is football. For a player, the games are so fleeting, the seasons so few. Savor the opportunity.
It's Saturday afternoon in the backyard, when kids are bouncing around with enthusiasm for football, and there's no way the other team is going to win without a real fight that is fair but ferocious.
Dive around and get dirty. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Keep up the intensity all the way through, until it's time for dinner.
Win or lose, make it an epic game worth talking about with your friends for a long time to come, and remembering for a lifetime.
Remember when we stuffed Derrick Henry on fourth-and-one. . . .

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Mesdersde's picture

December 25, 2020 at 11:54 pm

Good post i like it.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 26, 2020 at 02:48 am

Cleveland exposed the Titans secondary early on, and then Henry became an afterthought in a shootout game. Packers defense is far better than most folks here give than credit for, especially their secondary. As for the Packers offense, if Rodgers gets his usually good protection in pass pro, it's going to be a very long day for the Titans. Ho Ho Ho...

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 26, 2020 at 11:10 am

See if Lindsley starts.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 27, 2020 at 05:24 am

Good question. Maybe a tough call, but that would put their best blocking (both run and pass pro) out there. I wonder if MLF will risk lost of continuity with pulling Patrick, and is Lindsey able to hold up for a full game.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 26, 2020 at 11:21 am

The 2016 team went to the NFC Championship. Too many injuries.

Did the author say that we are undefeated in games where we don’t turn it over? Who could have imagined? I’ve heard people assure me that it’s all about talent and playmakers.....could it possibly be as simple as protecting the QB and the ball?

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PhantomII's picture

December 26, 2020 at 01:00 pm

Ah, yes 2016 NFC Championship in Atlanta. Our team looked hung over start to finish. Very poor showing but not as bad as last year. I want our team and Rodgers to look like they came to play some ball and win. Not like the last 2 times. This game will be a good test. I hope Dillon gets 15-20 carries, and a (W) . Everyone comes out unscathed and ready to destroy the Bears next.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 27, 2020 at 06:12 am

That 2016 NFC Championship Game team was decimated by injuries. Practically no one thought that the Packers could win the game. It had nothing to do with looking or being hung over, and everything to do with being totally out manned.

Last year's game against SF spiraled out of control after the initial turnover. It was also known going into the game that the match ups favored the 49ers. Certainly the Packers could have played better, but the loss had nothing to do with "looking like they didn't come to play some ball".

I think we can be fairly certain that the Packers, just like any other team, enter Championship Games with a mindset of putting on their very best performance. Circumstances may conspire against putting on such a performance, but thinking that the team goes into the game intentionally unprepared or with a defeatist attitude is not a realistic belief.

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PhantomII's picture

December 27, 2020 at 01:04 pm

Sorry, I'm not from Missouri but they're going to have to show me first. It is as I stated it until then. I am not satisfied with nothing. Slice it how you want, max effort is obvious even on teams that don't win. Sloppy, un-prepared, uninspired, poor coaching is also obvious. Home field advantage is only an advantage if you make it one. Don't get me wrong, Truly I want to see the Pack kick ass and take names, but after these Championship results there is some fire inside that must be observed on the field of Glory that has been missing consistently for quite some time. We have to be peaking this time of year. 4 full quarters scoring on offense. Defense getting off the field and generating turnovers. Offense scoring on turnovers.

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PhantomII's picture

December 28, 2020 at 11:43 am

Thank you for the TEAM WIN. GREAT JOB GUYS. GREAT COACHING. GREAT GAME PLAN. GREAT EXECUTION ON OFFENSE AND DEFENSE. NOW GO OUT AND GET US A CHAMPIONSHIP BY MAN HANDLING EVERY TEAM YOU FACE................GPG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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jlc1's picture

December 26, 2020 at 03:27 pm

Yep, turnovers look like even more of a key for GB this week than usual. Pack on the plus side with TOs and it looks like a win. But if they are minus on the TOs then I think they will at least have spared us the 4th quarter agonies they routinely subject us to.

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PatrickGB's picture

December 26, 2020 at 06:01 pm

After being kinda bummed after the mostly lackluster performances that this team has had over so-so teams, I figured this game to be a loss. Yet, because the Titian’s can be defeated by a good passing offense, I have real hope that the Packers can win this game.

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