Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers vs. Titans I

Our Scout.com experts, Jimmy Morris of TitansInsiders.com and Michael Lombardo of SDBoltReport.com, analyze Sunday's playoff game between the Titans and Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Let's start this two-part series with six questions from Mike to Jimmy.

Michael Lombardo: Health appears to be a big issue for the Titans heading into this game. What's the latest on Vince Young and Albert Haynesworth?

Jimmy Morris: Vince Young will be ready to go on Sunday. He could have come back into the game on Sunday night, but the Titans' staff decided to hold him out because Kerry Collins was playing well against the Colts' No. 2 defense. Young probably won't be 100 percent, but he will be healthy enough to play quarterback the way he wants to play.

Albert Haynesworth has pretty much been the same since he came back from the hamstring injury. It is obvious that he isn't 100 percent and is only going to play between 50-60 percent of the plays. I don't expect anything different from him this week. He probably won't practice much, if at all, and will be listed as questionable.

ML: The Chargers figure to load the box to slow down LenDale White and the Titans' rushing attack. How will the Titans respond to this? Will they run into the teeth of the defense or all Young to open up the passing game?

JM: The Titans run the ball first. It doesn't matter if a team has seven in the box or 10 in the box. The only way the Titans will truly open up the passing game is if they are down by a lot. Even if the Titans are only getting 2.5 yards per carry, the Chargers will get a heavy dose of LenDale White, Chris Brown and Chris Henry.

ML: Prior to beating the Indianapolis Colts' backups, the Titans had lost four straight against winning teams. Does this team have what it takes to win in a playoff environment?

JM: That is an excellent question. This is a very young team with very little playoff experience, so it is hard to say how they will react to the playoff environment. The best thing they have going for them is Jeff Fisher.

This isn't Fisher's first rodeo. He has been to the playoffs with a young team and a veteran team, so he will know how to get the guys prepared. Obviously, that can only take you so far and when the ball is kicked off on Sunday, it will be up to the players to make plays.

ML: What did the Titans learn about the Chargers in the first meeting that will change how they approach the rematch?

JM: They learned that you better be ready to play all 60 minutes against this Chargers team. The Titans dominated that game, especially defensively, for 50-plus minutes and came away with a loss. They won't make that mistake again.

ML: The Titans rank in the top-five in run defense, yet allowed LaDainian Tomlinson to run for 146 yards and a touchdown in Week 14. Was this a letdown by the Titans' defense? Or is there something about Tomlinson's rushing style that causes problems for Tennessee?

JM: It was a late game letdown by the defense. The Titans held Tomlinson to 80 yards through three quarters. That is a really solid number against a guy with LT's talent. They just got sloppy and tired late. As I said before, they will be ready for a 60-minute game this time.

Keep in mind, a lot of that depends on how healthy Haynesworth is. If he can play 60 percent of the plays at pretty much full speed, they should be able to contain LT. If Haynesworth is not able to go at all, or has to leave the game early, LT could easily be on his way to a career effort. It is amazing that one guy can make that much of a difference to an entire defense, but Haynesworth really does.

ML: There is a lot of bad blood between these teams, much of it stemming from an alleged hit put on Shawne Merriman during the last game. Do you believe that Jeff Fisher encouraged his players to go after Merriman? How will this mutual dislike affect Sunday's game?

JM: I do not believe Fisher encouraged his players to go after Merriman. In fact, I thought it was a ridiculous accusation on Merriman's part. Did the Titans make a play call that was designed to hit Merriman hard? Sure, but there is nothing dirty about that. That is football.

It will be interesting to see how that affects Sunday's game. The game in Nashville got a little chippy after Merriman's hit on Vince Young. I think you can expect to see a physical game with a lot of pushing and shoving after the whistle. It might be a good idea for the referees to call a couple of personal-foul penalties early to keep things from getting out of control.


SD Super Chargers Top Stories