It’s fair to assume that this weekend’s game in Nashville won’t be the most popular one in the NFL galaxy.
But at least the final score might be close?
The Carolina Panthers, who are 1-9 after falling to the Dallas Cowboys this past weekend, travel to Nissan Stadium to take on the 3-7 Tennessee Titans on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both are navigating rookie quarterback growing pains, both are looking to bounce back after blowout losses Week 11 — and both, simply put, are underachieving.
Here’s what you need to know about the Panthers’ next opponent before Sunday’s game.
Betting line for Panthers-Titans
The Panthers opened as four-point underdogs for their road contest Sunday. The over/under started at 37, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
Over the past four games, the Mike Vrabel-coached Titans have averaged 16 points a contest. The Panthers, in that same four-game stretch, haven’t scored more than 15 points.
How is Will Levis doing as starter for Titans?
It is taking some time for No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young to find his footing with the Carolina Panthers in his rookie season. As for the rookie in Tennessee? He started red-hot.
Will Levis out of Kentucky was bestowed the starting quarterback job last month against the Atlanta Falcons, and he stunned the league with a four-touchdown debut and a 28-23 Titans victory. He took the role because Ryan Tannehill was out with an ankle injury and because Malik Willis, who began the season as QB2, struggled when he stepped in for Tannehill on Oct. 15.
While Levis has cooled down substantially since his monster debut — losing three straight after that first win — the team that traded up for him in the draft has essentially stuck to him as its quarterback for the future. His stats through his first four games: 73 completions, 857 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions. He’s also been unafraid to throw it deep, too — with completions of 61 yards and 49 yards to his name already.
Levis will be going up against one of the better passing defenses in the league. The Panthers held Dak Prescott at bay this past weekend — much like they did against the surging Kirk Cousins and rookie sensation CJ Stroud earlier this year — and are Top 10 in passing yards allowed (179.2 a game).
Tennessee run game still king with Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry isn’t having the MVP-candidate-caliber season he’s had in years past. But he’s still one of the league’s best backs. The Titans star rusher is fifth in the league in rushing yards with 663 — Christian McCaffrey leads with 825 — and has four rushing touchdowns on the year.
Even still, though, the Titans only average 106.4 yards on the ground as a team (16th in the league).
A lot of that has to do with just generally depressed offensive numbers. It doesn’t help that the Titans are rarely in the luxurious position to milk clock this year, either — with only three wins to their name and only one of them decided by more than five points.
The Titans will have the chance to flex their running muscle against the Panthers, though, who still dwell toward the bottom of the league as a rushing defense. That said, against the Cowboys, Carolina only gave up 107 rushing yards and one touchdown — an admittedly admirable showing against the Tony Pollard-led Cowboy attack.
Titans defense led by Azeez Al-Shaair
A quick scan of the Titans’ defense this year shows a mixed bag. The team boasts an average scoring defense, allowing 21.4 points a game, and only gives up 112.3 rushing yards and 230.8 passing yards a game.
The difficult part to assess? Those numbers would constitute banner days for this Panthers offense.
Carolina has flipped play-callers twice, is averaging an almost-league-worst 16.3 points a game — and has allowed more than twice as many sacks (39) as touchdowns (16) this season.
Tennessee is led by linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who’s Top 15 in the league in tackles with 94, and Denico Autry (six sacks) and Harold Landry III (five sacks). Safety Amani Hooker, cornerback Roger McCreary and Sean Murphy-Bunting have each notched one interception on the year — and they’ll each be looking to provide an edge to what could be an ugly but close game.