NFL: Tennessee Titans-Training Camp
Jul 26, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; during training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Titans need great effort from Marcus Mariota vs. Patriots

The Tennessee Titans aren’t beating the New England Patriots unless Marcus Mariota is great.

Mariota, now in his fourth season in Tennessee, has largely been a disappointment to this point in his career. No, it’s not because of a lack of physical gifts but rather the inability to put it all together, some of which is due in part to a dearth of supporting cast members.

Still, it is the great quarterback who elevates the talents of those around him, something Mariota has rarely been able to do in his NFL years. Come Sunday, Mariota will have to put forth his best performance of the season if the Titans want any chance of beating the mighty Patriots.

Tennessee is a seven-point favorite against New England, despite being at home in Nissan Stadium. In essence, Vegas believes the Patriots would be a 10-point favorite on a neutral field, believing the game should has a good chance of becoming a blowout.

However, the Patriots are likely to be without Rob Gronkowski, who continues to deal with back issues. While that might help keep the point total down a tad for New England, the reality remains that the Titans have to score early and often to have any shot against a Tom Brady-led attack.

Ultimately, this boils down to whether or not Mariota can make tight-window throws while testing New England down the field. The Titans should be able to block the Patriots’ front, one of the worst in the NFL. The Patriots can be had if Mariota is willing to stick the ball in there, but it is something he’s struggled with throughout his time in Nashville.

In the seven games Mariota has played this season, he’s gone over 300 yards once, doing so in an upset overtime win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Outside of that, Mariota has thrown for less than 130 yards on four occasions and only gone for multiple touchdown passes once, doing so on Monday against the Dallas Cowboys.

You may have noticed that the games against the Eagles and Cowboys were both victories, and easily the best wins of the year for Tennessee.

If Mariota can play up to standard, the Titans have a great chance to fend off the Patriots in their own building. If Mariota throws for 150 yards, turn out the lights.

At some point, Titans fans need to demand more out of their 25-year-old quarterback, because until he starts throwing for significant yardage, they will never be more than an afterthought in a league hellbent on all but eliminating defense from the equation.

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