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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Scouting Report: Titans' Top Game Wreckers | Week 10 

A look at the Titans’ top playmakers who could impact the outcome of Sunday’s matchup


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the AFC Tennessee Titans on Sunday, November 12 in Week 10. The 3-5 Buccaneers will vie to snap a four-game losing streak after a 39-37 loss to the Texans at NRG Stadium. The Titans, who have lost three of their previous four matchups, will be coming off a mini-bye week after their defeat against Pittsburgh. Head Coach Mike Vrabel confirmed that Will Levis, the club's 33rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, will be the starter moving forward. He will command a Titans' offense ranked 23rd in the NFL (302.0) that boasts power rusher Derrick Henry and catch aficionado DeAndre Hopkins. With a downhill ground attack, Houston ranks 12th (114.5) in the league in rush offense as Henry carves up opposing defenses with brute strength and stunning speed in the open field. Hopkins has elevated the offense and has made his presence felt between the hash marks. Tennessee's defense is led by defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and defensive end Denico Autry up front, with linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair patrolling the middle. Simmons, an imposing competitor, is among the league's top in quarterback pressures and Al-Shaair leads the Titans with 83 tackles. The Titans have outstanding playmakers on both sides of the football and here are five who could help swing the game in favor of Tennessee on Sunday afternoon: 

DT Jeffery Simmons

The stutter-step bull rush move has become in vogue in the NFL, and few have crafted it better than Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. The menace has established himself as one of the best in the game with a rare blend of power and movement ability. Simmons possesses the strength to split double teams and the agility to slide laterally in pursuit of ball carriers. In 2023, Simmons has amassed 4.5 sacks, 31 tackles, six tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. He sets the tone on the Titans' defensive line with a fiery competitive streak. Simmons totaled 21 pressures through the first five weeks of the 2023 season, only trailing Aaron Donald (23) and Jalen Carter (23). The Titans' Pro Bowl defender consistently wreaks havoc from the interior, and he will be on the Bucs' radar come Sunday.

 RB Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry is a nightmare for defensive coordinators around the NFL. The bulldozer led the NFL with nine 100-yard games in 2022 and has eclipsed the 75-yard marker in five games this season en route to 601 total rushing yards (fifth in the NFL). Opposing teams cannot let up on any play against Henry. He is a freight train that runs with immense power behind his pads. A highlight-reel could be made of just Henry's nasty stiff-arms but he also possesses straight-line speed that often catches defenders off guard. As one of the top-five backs in the league, Henry thrives getting downhill with physicality and one-cut ability. With a forward lean, Henry plows through tacklers to punish the second/third level. He wears defenses down, changes the complexion of the Titans' offense and will be the top priority for Todd Bowles' crew on Sunday.

LB Azeez Al-Shaair

Azeez Al-Shaair currently leads the Titans with 83 tackles (sixth in the NFL) and spearheads the second level of Houston's defense. The Titans added to their linebacker corps. by signing former 49ers' defender, Al-Shaair, during the free agency frenzy. The move has paid dividends for Houston with Al Shaair's noticeable burst and change-of-direction skills. He has the ability to slip past blocks and clog run lanes, meeting rushers in the hole. Al Shaair finds ways to navigate through traffic and is an aggressive striker when tackling. With redirection in space, he has elevated the Titans' defense in the middle.

WR DeAndre Hopkins

In July, the Titans signed 10-year veteran, DeAndre Hopkins. Upon arriving in Tennessee, Hopkins had been named to five All-Pro teams while also hauling in 853 receptions for 11,298 yards and 71 touchdowns during his tenure with Houston and Arizona. With the Titans, Hopkins has continued the stellar trend in 2023, leading the club in receptions (35) and receiving yards (564). Hopkins possesses elite ball skills with glue-like hands. He has a knack for setting up his routes by adjusting the tempo to keep defenders off balance and then he attacks the ball in the air. Hopkins can extend his arm at the last second to generate separation and has sensational body control. Touted as one of the league's finest, Hopkins makes contested catches look effortless with acute concentration. He has a refined technique in-and-out of cuts, selling routes with body language. Like a magnet to the ball, Hopkins is an unusual breed. He can exploit defenses at all three levels and defenses have to gameplan around his prowess on the field.

DE Denico Autry

Denico Autry creates a formidable tandem with Simmons. During his first two seasons (2021-22) in Tennessee, Autry led the team with 17 sacks and ranked second on the squad with 89 quarterback pressures. He is currently the team's top sack-artist in 2023 with 5.0 and creates havoc along the line, switching from an edge role to the interior on certain downs when the Titans bring in an additional rusher. Autry quickly shoots gaps and disrupts the pocket, while also getting his hands up to bat passes out of the air. He is lethal when penetrating downhill through the A-gap and is a dangerous chess piece up-and-down the line. Autry has made 24 tackles overall, has deflected two passes and forced a fumble this season.

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