If you like watching touchdowns and embarrassed defenses, you could be in store for some must-see viewing on Sunday night.
When the Tennessee Titans visit the Green Bay Packers in a matchup of first-place teams, it will pit the NFL’s first- and third-ranked scoring offenses. Tennessee leads the league at 31.1 points per game and Green Bay is third at 31.0.
Both teams are also in the top five in yards per game and top 10 in rushing yards per game. Quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers have combined for a whopping 71 touchdown passes against just nine interceptions.
“We’re going up against probably the best team we’ve faced all year, and a team that doesn’t lose in December at Lambeau (Field),” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel. “The quarterback has thrown 40 touchdowns, and they rarely turn it over. So it will be a huge challenge.”
And it’s fair to wonder if the Titans (10-4), who are tied with Indianapolis atop the AFC South but hold the tiebreaker, are ready for that huge defensive challenge. With the exception of scattered games, they have been vulnerable to any kind of decent passing attack, let alone the one Rodgers can crank up.
Making it even worse for Tennessee is its utter lack of pass rush. It ranks last in the NFL with 14 sacks. If it can’t at least pressure Rodgers, its chances of slowing down the Packers diminish immensely.
“We certainly have to do a better job of everybody being involved in helping disrupt the passing game,” Vrabel said.
Of course, that sword cuts both ways. While Green Bay’s defense has certainly been better than the Titans’, registering 38 sacks to rank ninth in the league, it still yields more than 24 points per game. And it also has the unenviable task of dealing with NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry.
Coming off 147 yards and a touchdown last week in a 46-25 victory over the Lions that included a stiff arm of an unfortunate defensive back, Henry has compiled 1,679 yards. A big game here and a 2,000-yard season could be within reach.
But the Packers can’t be too fixated on Henry. Tannehill is having the best season of his career, on pace to throw for nearly 4,000 yards. Receivers Corey Davis and A.J. Brown could each finish with more than 1,000 yards and are averaging nearly 16 yards per catch.
With the NFC North title in its hip pocket, Green Bay (11-3) is pushing for the top seed and a first-round bye in next month’s playoffs. It got a scare near the end of its Week 15 game with slumping Carolina, but was able to hold off the Panthers 24-16.
Second-year coach Matt LaFleur wasn’t thrilled that his offense didn’t produce anything but a 51-yard field goal by Mason Crosby in the second half, but saluted his team for getting the result.
“We did what we had to do,” LaFleur said. “We held on.”
This will be the 13th meeting of the franchises, dating back to Tennessee’s existence as the Houston Oilers. The Titans’ 47-25 blowout of the Packers four years ago in Nashville gave them a 7-5 series lead. Green Bay blasted Tennessee 55-7 in 2012, the teams’ last matchup in Wisconsin.