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Seahawks vs Titans: Week 2 NFL preview

The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans are both expected to be playoff contenders in 2021, but Seattle had one of the better season openers among any team in the NFL, whereas Tennessee’s showing drew nothing but red flags.

It’s not quite time to hit the panic button in Nashville, yet the Titans’ 38-13 loss to Arizona was straight-up ugly. Can they recover against a Seahawks team that just soundly beat Indianapolis 28-16 on the road? Read our full preview to see our score prediction and which way key personnel matchups should go in Sunday’s Week 2 meeting.

Seattle Seahawks vs Tennessee Titans: What you need to know

Find out where the Seahawks and Titans stand in our NFL Week 2 power rankings

Russell Wilson vs Ryan Tannehill

Seattle Seahawks vs Tennessee Titans: What you need to know
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) warms up before they face the Arizona Cardinals at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: George Walker IV / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The loss of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as Atlanta’s new head coach may be more devastating for Tennessee than initially believed. Tannehill and the Titans offense looked lost in Week 1, as the Cardinals’ defensive front overwhelmed them and sacked the QB six times. That won’t play well for Tannehill’s going forward.

As for Wilson, well, he looked brilliant versus Indianapolis, throwing four touchdowns and only five incompletions. Given how porous and suspect Tennessee’s secondary looked against Arizona, Sunday’s game could get ugly in a hurry if Wilson comes out hot like that.

  • Dange-Russ Indeed: Even more exciting for Wilson is that he thrived under the direction of new play-caller Shane Waldron. Lack of continuity can hamper a team, especially early on, but Seattle might have had the classic addition by subtraction when they fired Brian Schottenheimer and replaced him with someone, you know, actually competent.
  • Tenacious Tannehill: There’s more competitive fire to Tannehill than anyone seems to realize. He could’ve thrown in the towel when things didn’t work out in Miami with Adam Gase. Instead, he stuck it out, capitalized on his opportunity with the Titans, and has played like a legitimate top-five quarterback over the past year-plus. Don’t be surprised if he rallies back to make this heads-up positional matchup closer than it should be.

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks back seven vs Derrick Henry

Seahawks vs Titans: Week 2 NFL preview
Sep 12, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is tackled after a reception during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Henry ran for over 2,000 yards in 2020 and is quite clearly the NFL’s best pure runner. It was jarring to see him limited to only 58 yards on 17 carries last week. That’s not going to be a winning formula for Tennessee as long as Henry is the workhorse back.

All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner has been the heart and soul of Seattle’s defense for several years, especially once the Legion of Boom secondary’s heyday came to an end. Wagner is the classic sideline-to-sideline roamer, so he’ll be game for this matchup. Most of the rest of the Seahawks’ back seven is a lot less proven, though.

See where the Seahawks rate in our latest NFL defense rankings

  • Adams is the X-factor: Although he’s a safety by trade, Jamal Adams is so versatile that he can either line up on the edge, as a nickel, or as an extra linebacker and thrive at any of those positions. Adams is unafraid to bring the wood as a run defender, so when he’s not helping efforts to stop A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, he’ll be in on some Henry tackles.
  • King Henry: Seattle’s lighter linebackers and defensive backs won’t exactly be lining up to joyously bring Henry to the turf as Sunday’s game progresses. Don’t be surprised if he really gashes the Seahawks and piles up over 100 yards.

Advantage: Tennessee Titans

Pete Carroll vs Mike Vrabel

Seahawks vs Titans: Week 2 NFL preview
Aug 28, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll watches pregame warmups against the Los Angeles Chargers at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t really argue with the results Mike Vrabel has produced since taking the Titans’ coaching job. He’s yet to post a losing record in three seasons, and in his second year, led Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game.

But can Vrabel handle the adversity of losing? He didn’t experience much of it as a linebacker at Ohio State, or with the New England Patriots as a star player. Tennessee might be far worse than expected, and that, combined with Vrabel’s overall demeanor, could send the Titans south in a hurry.

  • Carroll Upbeat Amid Seattle’s Storms: It really seemed like Carroll’s old-school ways might lead Wilson to ask for a trade away from the Seahawks this offseason. Instead, the longtime coach-QB combo seemed to grow closer than ever. At least through Week 1, Carroll’s ability to lead an outspoken, candid locker room is still as strong as ever.
  • Vintage Vrabel: The obvious competitive fire and standard of excellence Vrabel has carried with him throughout his football life has resonated in Tennessee. Despite the argument stated above, Vrabel knows how up-and-down any given season can be. Expect the Titans to respond to their Week 1 embarrassment in physical, aggressive fashion.

Advantage: Seattle Seahawks

The bottom line: Many will be quick to write off Tennessee after its opening dud, but it’s a long, 17-game season. Facing the Seahawks isn’t the easiest assignment as the Titans scramble to find their identity. Nevertheless, even if Seattle wins by a lot as we predict, it may be just what Tennessee needs to rebound as it begins AFC South play in Week 3 against the Colts.

Are the Seahawks and Titans postseason-worthy in 2021? Read our NFL playoff predictions now