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Washington Commanders vs Tennessee Titans preview: 3 matchups to watch

The Washington Commanders host the Tennessee Titans

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders have lost three games in a row and now sit at the bottom of the NFC East with a 1-3 record. The team has scored 10 points or less over the last two weeks, and those were against division rivals. Carson Wentz and the entire offense are struggling to score points, and that has been killing the team’s chances to even be competitive. The defense struggled early, but are now getting no help from their offense either.

Week 5 is thankfully not a division game. The Tennessee Titans are coming to FedEx Field in a must-win game. Washington has a two game stretch against the Titans and Bears that are winnable games before they host the Packers in Week 7. The Titans are 2-2 and tied for the Jaguars for 1st place in the AFC South. They have won their last two games(Raiders, Colts), after dropping their first two(Giants, Bills). Washington are home underdogs again and it’s a 2 point spread. You can check out the odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Matchup 1: Derrick Henry vs Washington’s defense

Derrick Henry isn’t on the record-setting pace he was two years ago, but is still a big threat on the ground for the Titans. He has 306 yards on the ground through 4 weeks along with 3 touchdowns. He also has 8 receptions for 91 yards through the air. Washington is middle of the pack(16th) in the NFL at stopping the run, allowing an average of 112 yards per game on the ground. LB Jamin Davis could play a big role in knocking Henry off some of his runs, putting the athleticism that made him a 1st round pick to use to at least slow King Henry down.

“You got to make sure that you’re squared up in your creases. You don’t want to be getting to there as he’s already there, because then you’ll end up in an arm tackle, and as you’ve seen, he goes right through arm tackles. You’ve got to make sure you’re where you need to be, you’re in a good football position and you deliver a nice tackle, head up, seeing what you’re hitting.”

Matchup 2: Carson Wentz vs his tendencies

Carson Wentz has to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, and he has to get them involved early in the game. Jahan Dotson is out, and Logan Thomas might also miss the Titans game. Terry McLaurin has been criminally under-targeted by Wentz this year, despite some garbage time stats boosting his numbers for the year. Curtis Samuel has been used all over the offense, and he’s great for picking up some yards here and there, but the big plays have been missing, despite Wentz really, really wanting them to work. The Commanders need to feed McLaurin the ball, and get the guy they just paid into a rhythm with the guy under center.

That also means a change in gameplan from Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner to help Wentz get the ball out quicker, and to the right targets. The offensive line has 3 different starters, and will likely need extra help to keep the QB upright and productive. Wentz has not looked comfortable in this offense, so adjustments from Turner need to come before the 2nd half. The running game, with a possibly freed up Antonio Gibson could help with that.

Matchup 3: Washington’s RBs vs Tennessee’s defense

Brian Robinson will make his regular season NFL debut this week, and its been a great story to watch since the rookie was shot twice on August 28th. He will play vs the Titans, but we’ll see how much of a workload the team gives him after just returning to practice this week. Robinson practiced fully this week, and will likely be tested on the field early. He’s obviously a big morale boost for the team, but we still need to see what kind of boost he’ll bring to Washington’s offense.

Washington will have Robinson, Antonio Gibson, and J.D. McKissic available tomorrow with Jonathan Williams likely being inactive. Washington can have success on the ground, but need a lot of work blending it seamlessly with the passing game. Play action has been a mess, and Turner doesn’t seem to recognize the real problems with it. Robinson’s return to the team could help Washington’s running game get a little more respect from opposing defenses. The Titans like to control the clock and grind out games. Establishing the run early will be crucial to beating this team if your passing game is struggling.