Top 5 storylines to watch in Raiders-Titans Week 3 matchup
How will they respond?
The Raiders start a two-game road trip with a stop in Tennessee to face a physical Titans squad that beat Detroit in dramatic fashion last week. The Silver and Black’s momentum was sapped by a home loss to Atlanta that exposed its defense at every level. Coaches vow to make improvements and must to win when victory’s expected, even with an early start on the road. Corrections must be made in some areas to get the Raiders back heading in the right direction... -- Scott Bair
5. Stopping one tough TE
The Raiders struggled defending the tight end in Week 2, Atlanta’s position group recorded 10 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown. Titans tight end Delanie Walker is a tougher matchup than anyone the Falcons employ, with enough speed and size to be a possession man and a deep threat. The Raiders will employ several tactics to slow the former 49er down, and they hope his ailing hamstring will aid that effort. The Titans have several quality skill players, but taking away their No. 1 option would certainly hinder their attack. -- Scott Bair
4. Young blood in important spots
The Raiders are looking to shore up important spots on defense with inexperienced players. Sixth-round pick Cory James could start at middle linebacker over Ben Heeney, but will see significant snaps there at the very least. First-round strong safety Karl Joseph is set to make his defensive debut, though it’s uncertain how much he’ll play over Keith McGill. Both rookies are thumpers who enjoy contact. They’re also incredibly green in this defense and the NFL. How will they react to additional responsibility? -- Scott Bair
3. Can Slash Bros. make a splash?
Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin have one sack between them through two games. That isn’t a great total, especially on a defense struggling to stop the opposition. They need better coverage to help the pass rush and tackling mobile quarterback Marcus Mariota is no picnic. It’s a big ask in a team game, especially against a pair of good, young Titans tackles, but this defense needs a spark. Irvin and Mack must set an example and inspire with quality play. -- Scott Bair
2. Defending the basics
After the Falcons loss, Khalil Mack said the Raiders got beat by the basics. They struggled with play action, bootlegs and misdirection, with players not making proper reads required to be in position to minimize gains. The Titans prefer to run with power on the interior, using DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to blaze a trail. Marcus Mariota also works well outside the pocket, creating issues even for a sound defense. Fitting the run well, providing well-timed help in the secondary and creating interior pressure is key for a defense looking for improvement. -- Scott Bair
1. Offense helping defense
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said his unit remains a work in progress, and it’s hard to imagine the Raiders fixing every issue overnight. The offense can take pressure on their maligned brethren by keeping up the good work. The NFL’s top offense has been scoring in bunches with a steady run game and a potentially explosive passing attack. Tallying another high total means the defense won’t have to be perfect to beat Tennessee. It just has to be a little better. -- Scott Bair