Week 3: Chargers-Titans matchup analysis
San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
*Keys to the game: Titans QB Jake Locker is a much more mature and confident leader in his third season. He avoided critical errors in two tight games to begin the season and is spreading the ball around nicely. Whether WR Kenny Britt can remain focused enough to be the big-play threat he can be is questionable, but Britt said he's ready to turn it on. The Titans prefer to attack short and to the sideline, with TE Delanie Walker and WR Kendall Wright, but will dial downfield when Nate Washington and Britt get a step on coverage. The Chargers are thriving without the threat of a running game as QB Philip Rivers is plating chicken salad without top-shelf ingredients around him. TE Antonio Gates will get consistent looks. However, WR Eddie Royal's role increases with Malcom Floyd out, meaning CB Jason McCourty (and Alterraun Verner on the other side) have a stiff challenge on their hands in the Titans' press-man coverage.
*Matchup to watch - Titans LT Michael Roos vs. Chargers OLB Dwight Freeney: Freeney and Roos have tangoed before, when Freeney thrived with the Colts and faced the Titans twice a year. Roos is a tactician and will match against Freeney, who now rushes from a two-point stance rather than his hand on the ground and seems to have new life in his legs after two down years with the Colts.
*Player spotlight - Titans RB Chris Johnson: He's back to his workhorse ways. Johnson has had 25 carries in each of the first two games, putting him on pace for 400 carries this season, taking a considerable amount of heat off of Locker to carry the offense.
*Fast facts: The Chargers have beaten the Oilers/Titans franchise nine consecutive games. The last time the Titans franchise beat the Chargers was in 1992, and Titans coach Mike Munchak was still an active player.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
Jake Locker's play has been as much of a surprise as the stellar defense of the Titans, but will it last? The Chargers keep it close in another game that goes down to the wire for the Bolts.
*Our pick: Titans 23-22