At a quick glance, one can easily surmise the Tennessee Titans are susceptible to an aerial onslaught. After all, their defense has yielded 3,121 passing yards (27th out of 32 teams), but that’s just to sucker opponents in.
When it comes to touchdowns given up and interceptions, the Tennessee ranked 14th in TDs allowed (18) and 7th in picks (11). And the two defenders spearheading that effort are cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Kevin Byard. This is the duo the Oakland Raiders need to avoid — as much as possible — this Sunday.
Let’s put it into further context: Ryan and Byard’s combined total of interceptions (8) is the same amount the Raiders have generated as a team.
Ryan, who followed Titans head honcho Mike Vrabel from New England to Tennessee, is the top corner in terms of pass breakups (17) and is third in interceptions with four. His cohort Byard has 8 pass defensed (tied for 35th) but also has four picks.
Ryan is a jack of all trades type corner.. The 28-year-old has 85 total tackles to go along with 3.5 sacks and a trio of forced fumbles. He is equal parts smother cornerback and sound tackler and blitzer.
So while Gruden and the Raiders offense may avoid him through the air, the former third-round pick has the skillset to make an impact in several other areas.
Byard plays the role of thief center fielder deep in the Titans defensive backfield and is one of the more consistent young takeaway artists in the league. The 26-year old snagged 16 interceptions through his four-year career, including a career-high 8 in his second year.
One huge thing going for the Raiders in this matchup is that quarterback Derek Carr sports a clean 3-0 record against the Titans. He’s thrown 6 touchdowns to just 1 interception in those trio of clashes (841 yards, 64-percent completion percentage).
This season, however, Carr hasn’t registered a 300-yard passing game and Oakland ranks 15th in aerial yardage (2,785) and 19th in TDs (17) and 8th in INTs thrown (8).
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