Titans at Chargers -- Week 2
Where: Qualcomm Stadium (natural grass, outdoors)
When: 4:25 ET, (CBS)
Spread: Chargers by 6
Forecast: Sunny and 81 degrees with zero percent chance of rain.
Records: Titans (Overall: 0-1, AFC South: 0-0); Chargers (Overall: 1-0, AFC West 1-0).
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Oct. 31, 2010: Chargers 33, Titans 25; Dec. 25, 2009. Chargers 42, Titans 17.
What matters: The Tennessee Titans have dropped eight straight to the Chargers, including an AFC Wild Card game defeat at San Diego in 2008. In four regular season games against the Titans, Philip Rivers has recorded a quarterback rating of at least 99.1 three times. During that span, Rivers threw for seven touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing more than 68 percent of his passes. The Chargers have scored at least 33 points in four of the eight and at least 40 twice. More immediately, the Titans must fix a run defense that allowed 162 yards in last week's defeat to the Patriots. The Chargers cleared running back Ryan Mathews (collarbone) for contact earlier in the week. On offense, Jake Locker is coming off a stellar debut in his first career start. The soreness in Locker's non-throwing shoulder has decreased throughout the week.
Who matters: Kenny Britt. The Titans' explosive receiver will likely appear in his first game since tearing two ligaments in his right knee last September. Britt is expected to receive roughly 15 to 25 snaps. The obstacles for the fourth-year receiver to overcome early in his comeback may be more mental, than physical. Britt said he felt rusty while running routes and reading coverages on Wednesday, but became more comfortable throughout the week. The return of Britt could open up the run for the Titans. All-Pro running back Chris Johnson had just four yards on 11 carries in the opener.
Key matchups: Coverage against the tight ends on both sides. Titans tight end Jared Cook is an emerging threat. Since week 15 of the 2011 regular season, Cook ranks fourth among all players in the league in receiving yards with 399. The fourth-year tight end will look to exploit the soft spots of the Chargers' zone against middle linebackers Donald Butler and Takeo Spikes. Chargers' tight end Antonio Gates, meanwhile, hasn't been this healthy in years. With middle linebacker Colin McCarthy ruled out, Will Witherspoon will have to neutralize Gates in the passing game.
Injuries of note: McCarthy's ankle sprain will force Witherspoon to move to middle linebacker from the weakside. Rookie weakside linebacker Zach Brown is expected to receive his first career start. Wide receiver Nate Washington (calf) missed practice every day this week, but still may be in the lineup. Running back Javon Ringer also missed practice this week after spending time in a local Nashville hospital for treatment for an elbow infection. Ringer is out. Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer underwent hand surgery earlier this week, but is expected to play.
Inside stuff: Chargers' outside linebackers Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson may be one of the most imposing duos in the league. Both are explosive off the edge, can disguise their blitzes and make Locker look foolish when dropping into coverage. The Titans, however, are prepared for the scheme after facing a similar defense run by the Cardinals in the preseason. The Chargers' 3-4 defense also compares favorably with schemes run by the Texans and Ravens. The Titans won two out of three combined against Baltimore and Houston last season.
Connections: Rivers grew up in Athens, Ala. which is located about an hour and a half south of Nashville. Titans right guard Leroy Harris blocked for Rivers in college at NC State. Former Oilers Pro Bowl cornerback Cris Dishman is an assistant secondary coach with the Chargers. Former Oilers wide receiver Malcolm Floyd, a teammate of Dishman's, is the older brother of Chargers wideout Malcom Floyd.
Stat you should know: The Chargers ranked third in the NFL in 2011 in first downs per game (22.4). It enabled Norv Turner's team to hold the ball for an average of 31:39 per game. The Titans ranked 31st in the NFL in time of possession last season, while the Chargers finished sixth.
Record watch: Kicker Rob Bironas has made 17 straight field goals dating back to last year. He is three field goals short of tying the franchise-high.
Looking ahead: With matchups against the Lions and Texans to close out the month, the Titans can't afford to drop to 0-2. It has been more than 21 years since the franchise has won a game in San Diego.
Prediction: Chargers 27, Titans 24.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Tennessee Titans, follow Matt Rybaltowski @CBSTitans.