CHARLOTTE – After suffering their worst defeat of the season last week, the Panthers are looking to rebound this Sunday at home against the 4-4 Tennessee Titans.
Sunday will mark the Panthers' first game at Bank of America Stadium in nearly a month – a venue at which the Titans have found success. This will only be the Titans' third regular season trip to Charlotte, but they've returned to Tennessee victorious both times.
This season, the Titans will enter the Week 9 matchup riding a two-game winning streak after victories over the Buccaneers and the Chargers. Here's everything you need to know about the Panthers' next opponent.
Who's under center?
After spending the last four seasons with former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at quarterback, the Titans made the call to replace him with former Dolphin Ryan Tannehill two weeks ago. The result? Back-to-back wins.
Tannehill, an eight-year veteran, spent his first seven seasons with the Dolphins before being traded to Tennessee this offseason. Since taking over, Tannehill has recorded the sixth best passer rating (115.3) in the NFL over the last two weeks, throwing five touchdowns and just one interception. Where Tannehill has impressed the most has been in the red zone, where he is a perfect 6-for-6 and part of why Tennessee is tied for third in the league in red zone touchdown percentage (66.67) this season.
In the backfield, the Titans have had help from another Heisman Trophy winner in running back Derrick Henry. Throughout their quarterback inconsistencies, the Titans have been force-feeding Henry, who ranks fourth in the league with 151 carries and ninth in rushing yards (581).
Despite its potency in the red zone, the Titans offense has struggled elsewhere this season, ranking 26th in points per game (18.5) and tied for 24th in third down conversion percentage (33.3).
A different story on D
Defensively, things have been a bit more sound for the Titans. Led by linebacker Rashaan Evans, the Titans D has given up an average of just 16.9 points per game (fourth least), while tallying 22 sacks (T-10th) and recording eight interceptions (T-5th).
The Titans are coming off of a defensive performance where they forced four turnovers against the Bucs in Week 8, with two interceptions and two fumbles. On the other hand, the Panthers offense gave the ball away three times last week, including the first three interceptions of quarterback Kyle Allen's young career.
In the offseason, the Titans added veteran cornerback Malcolm Butler to their secondary, and so far, he's proved to be a helpful addition. Butler, a two-time Pro Bowler, has recorded two interceptions, trailing fellow cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Kevin Byard, who have three each. Since 2017, Byard is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions.
Sunday should make for an interesting clash between the Titans' stingy defense and the Christian McCaffrey-led Panthers' offense, which averages 25.6 points per game (13th).
The man in charge
The Titans are led by second-year head coach Mike Vrabel, who's shown a willingness to roll the dice. Late in the fourth quarter on Sunday leading 27-23, Vrabel attempted a fake field goal to try and put the game away. Instead, the play failed, and the door was left open for one last chance at a Bucs comeback. Just a week prior, Vrabel attempted a quarterback sneak to ice the game late in the fourth quarter, and that failed, too.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, nicknamed Riverboat Ron, has proven himself to be a fourth down gambler as well, so it'll be interesting to see if one of these coaches is presented with a tough call.