That's a mighty bold statement considering it is just week one of the NFL season and each will have at least fifteen more chances to prove themselves, but still it is a must for both teams.
Flashback to 2014 and both the Titans and Buccaneers finished the regular seasons 2-14. The two teams selected first and second in April’s NFL Draft, acquiring their current starting quarterbacks in the process.
On Sunday, when the final horn sounds, one of these two teams will have already amassed half of their win total from the previous season. They will have gotten their season off to a good start and hopefully established some confidence in their rookie quarterback.
So who has the advantage in each match-up between the two worst teams in the league last season?
TITANS OFFENSE VS BUCCANEERS DEFENSE
ADVANTAGE- Bucs defense
Why do the Bucs have an advantage here?
It’s simple, the Titans are starting a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game, and it is on the road. There will undoubtedly be some butterflies and nerves for Titans rookie Marcus Mariota and until he gets his feet under him and proves he can do it in a real game the jury is still out.
Also the Titans offensive line has been a work in progress and questions remain as to how good they will be. If they struggle then all bets are off.- Advantage Tampa
BUCCANEERS OFFENSE VS TITANS DEFENSE
ADVANTAGE- Titans defense
For the same reason that the Tampa defense has a presumed advantage, so do the Titans defenders.
Tampa rookie quarterback Jameis Winston was the number one overall selection in April’s draft for a reason. He is a physically gifted passer with a big arm and seems fearless when throwing the football. However, Winston struggled at times in the preseason and had a tendency to force throws resulting in a large amount of interceptions thrown in college.
NFL defenders are better and windows smaller, so if Winston forces throws today he could help the Titans.
Also there is the Dick LeBeau factor for Tennessee. The legendary defensive coordinator for the Titans is 20-2 since 2004 against rookie quarterbacks. He will likely throw the kitchen sink at Winston with his aggressive zone blitz schemes.- Advantage Tennessee
ADVANTAGE- Titans special teams
The Titans have a veteran kicker in Ryan Succop and punter Brett Kern while Tampa is starting big legged rookie kicker Kyle Brindza and first year punter Jacob Schum who they signed as a free-agent this offseason.
Tampa Bay also has a rookie return man in undrafted Adam Humphries while Dexter McCluster will return for the Titans.- Advantage Tennessee
The Buccaneer fans have been in a frenzy since the team selected Winston, the former Florida State Seminole star in the first round, but the Bucs have been absolutely terrible at home of late.
The crowd will be wild early, but if Winston and the team struggle early there could be little crown involvement late.
It’s never easy to open the season on the road in the NFL, but the Titans went into Kansas City last season and won on opening day. This is a better Titans team facing a team not as good as the Chiefs, and in spite of a rookie quarterback, the Titans can handle the road challenges.
Both coaches are on their second teams as head coaches, and both have a Super Bowl appearance to their credit (both lost).
Tampa Bay’s Lovie Smith is 83-77 all-time in his eleven years as a head coach while Tennessee’s Ken Whisenhunt is 47-65 in eight year as a head coach.
So how can this be even when Smith has a much better record?
Both staffs have good assistant coaches, but the Titans staff is slightly better and it also seems like Mariota might be slightly ahead of Winston in his readiness to play right now and be successful.