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Countdown to Kickoff: Titans-Buccaneers, Week 10 2023 

The Buccaneers will host the Titans on Sunday in Week 10 … Key stats, lineup notes and more


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Tennessee Titans in Week 10 at Raymond James Stadium. On Sunday, November 12, the two 3-5 clubs will go head-to-head in a battle for reinvigoration. After a 39-37 loss to the Texans at NRG Stadium, the Bucs dropped in the NFC South race to third place, 1.5 games behind the New Orleans Saints. This weekend, the home team will look to snap a four-game losing streak against the Titans, who are in a similar downward spiral. After a 2-2 start with wins over the Chargers and Bengals, the Titans have lost three of their previous four matchups. Rookie quarterback Will Levis was confirmed as the Titans' starter moving forward and the Bucs' will vie for better results against a first-year signal-caller on Sunday. After a week of preparation, here is what the contest comes down to:

4 Stats That Matter

  • Derrick Henry has 58 carries against stacked boxes in 2023 (most in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats). He has accumulated 3.2 yards per carry versus stacked boxes this season (seventh-most in the NFL with 20-plus carries per NGS).
  • Rachaad White had 119 scrimmage yards in Week Nine (career-high and third-straight game with 90-plus scrimmage yards). Tennessee has allowed 159.5 rush yards per game since Week Five (last in the league).
  • The Titans have a rushing attack that has averaged 114.5 yards per game (12th most in the league) and Henry is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on the ground.
  • Tennessee is allowing 114.8 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry to opponents.

3 Lineup Notes

  • The Buccaneers could be without their starting cornerback tandem when they take on the Tennessee Titans. Jamel Dean suffered a concussion early in the Bucs' Week Nine loss in Houston and Carlton Davis III finished the game with a toe injury. Both have been limited throughout the week during practice. After practice concluded on Friday, Head Coach Todd Bowles confirmed that both players remain question marks heading into Sunday's matchup. "[Dean] is still in the protocol, so he's got to pass a few more tests to be ready to play Sunday," said Bowles. "Davis got some reps today. He's getting better so he'll be a game-time decision as well." Davis did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, and Dean practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday. If only one of the two is able to start on Sunday, second-year corner Zyon McCollum would fill in at the other starting spot. If both starters are out, the Bucs would then have to turn to their practice squad for assistance.
  • In addition, for the Buccaneers, rookie Josh Hayes (concussion) was ruled out and guard Matt Feiler (knee) was listed on Friday's final injury report with a doubtful designation. Feiler missed the Week Nine matchup and Aaron Stinnie filled in during his absence, helping to ignite the run game against the Texans.
  • The Titans ruled out five players for the upcoming matchup against the Bucs, a list that includes four starters: right guard Daniel Brunskill, wide receiver Treylon Burks, offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting. Right tackle Chris Hubbard has been cleared from the concussion protocol and he will play. Both cornerback Anthony Kendall (hamstring) and quarterback Ryan Tannehill (ankle) were listed as questionable.

2 Challenges Presented by the Titans

The Titans have transitioned on the offensive side of the ball. Will Levis, the 33rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, was named the team's starting quarterback going forward, despite Ryan Tannehill's return from an ankle injury. Levis started the last two games for Tennessee, guiding the team to a win over Atlanta 28-23. Overall, in that two-game span, Levis completed 60.3% of his passes for 250 yards per game, four touchdowns and one interception, resulting in a 96.4 passer rating. Both running back Derrick Henry and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins are the team's offensive catalysts. Henry, who spearheads the Titans' downhill rushing attack, runs with power and forward lean, punishing defenders at the second and third level. Henry has surpassed the 75-yard marker in five games this season en route to 601 total rushing yards (fifth in the NFL). He is nearly impossible to bring down once he gets a head of steam in the open field and the bulldozer creates matchup problems. As teams are forced to allocate resources to stopping Henry by loading the box and bringing a safety down, it creates favorable matchups for DeAndre Hopkins over the top. Hopkins, who leads the Titans in receptions (35) and receiving yards (564), possesses elite ball skills and body control. He has the short-area quickness and fluidity in-and-out of breaks to exploit the underneath/intermediate area of the field and the speed to win over the top. With glue-like hands, Hopkins presents a unique challenge.

Tennessee's defense is led by defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair in the middle. Simmons is among the upper echelon in the NFL in quarterback pressures. He is an imposing penetrator through the interior and routinely splits double teams with power and athleticism. He has an insatiable appetite for quarterbacks and a lethal bull rush maneuver.

"Yeah, he is a game-wrecker – one of those guys where you've got to know where he is at," said Baker Mayfield on Simmons. "If you have to have some help in protection, you're going to have to do that. You have to make adjustments for him. He's just one guy that you don't want to let ruin your day. We've got to know where he's at. Guys have got to be keyed into the gameplan, particularly protection-wise and run-game-wise with how we're attacking him. Limit his big playmaking." 

Al-Shaair leads the Titans with 83 tackles, which ranks sixth in the NFL. He is a textbook tackler with outstanding change-of-direction skills to navigate through traffic. The Titans rank 20th in yards allowed per game (337.8) and 11th in points allowed per game (20.0).

1 Key Thought from Todd Bowles

On Titans' running back Derrick Henry:

"I'm sure I could speak for the other 31 teams in the league – he's a load. He's tough. He's tough, he's a load. You know what they're going to do – he's coming. He's bigger than your linebackers, your outside [linebackers], your inside [linebackers] and all your defensive backs. We've got to try and gang tackle him."

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