Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/10/11
By Steve Camp         
Cold, Hard Football Facts Titans beat writer

Thermopylae.  Little Big Horn.  Titans vs. Saints.  Is Sunday’s game a foregone conclusion, a contest in which the Titans are destined for the fate of the Greeks and the US Cavalry?  No, surprisingly.  There are some Quality Stats in Tennessee’s favor, and a bit of geography, too.  Here are some opportunities the Titans need to make the most of against New Orleans.

Rushing offense vs. soft New Orleans Defense.  The resurgence of Tennessee’s rushing attack is well timed: one of the few weaknesses the Saints have shown this year is rushing defense.  New Orleans ranks 30th in the league, allowing 4.95 YPC.  True, over the course of the season the Titans have been fairly inept at running the ball.  However, as of late they’ve gotten much better.  Running back Chris Johnson has gained 486 yards on 85 carries (5.72 YPC) and 3 touchdowns over the last month.  Granted, the big days have come against bad defenses, but New Orleans brings a bad defense to Nashville this week for the Titans to run against.  Tennessee should be able to run the ball effectively against New Orleans, which will go a long way towards keeping Drew Brees off the field.

Pass Defense vs. Drew Brees.  No, we’re not saying the Titans will rattle Brees and hold him to his worst day as an NFL starter.  If you’re hoping for that, don’t hold your breath.  But there is some sunshine here for Tennessee: so far this season, Tennessee’s Defensive Real Quarterback Rating is 78.21 (17th in the league).  The Saints will almost certainly exceed that number, but the fact is that Tennessee has generally done a decent job against the pass this year.  In addition to the Defensive Real Quarterback Rating, Tennessee allows just 5.90 Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt.  The overall picture here is of a defense that limits big pass plays and generally keeps opposing quarterbacks in check.  Against a powerhouse offensive unit like Brees & Friends, Tennessee’s defense could be enough to slow them down from their average pace of 30+ points per game.

On the Road Again.  The Saints are 9-3 coming into this game, but just 3-3 on the road.  In the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (because apparently “Superdome” didn’t have enough pop), the Saints are nearly unbeatable.  Lucky for the Titans, this week the Saints travel to LP Field.  The weather forecast calls for a cold, crisp afternoon, but only a small chance for rain.  No matter, the Titans will still benefit from not dealing with the rabid Saints' fans in the enclosed Superdome.  If Titans fans can recreate some of the “old” LP Field feeling and noise from the early-2000s, the Saints will be facing a dramatic shift from their massive home field advantage to a serious disadvantage in the open-air stadium in Nashville.  It’s not much, really, but playing away from home has been unkind to the Saints this year.  Maybe it will be enough to push the Titans over the top.
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