The Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys return from their bye week to square off under the bright lights of Monday Night Football, and when the teams take the field they will likely see themselves staring back from the other sideline.
In fact, no two teams in the NFL bear a more striking resemblance to each other than the Titans and Cowboys.
Both teams are 3-4, and should be kicking themselves for letting a couple of close winnable games slip through their fingers.
Both teams are lucky, in a sense, because of the state of their overall divisions.
The Titans are only a game and a half behind the Houston Texans (5-3) in the AFC South, and the Cowboys are only 2 and a half games behind the AFC East leading Washington Redskins (5-2), who they lost to on the final play of the game two weeks ago.
But wait…there’s much much more….
Both teams are struggling mightily on offense, especially in the passing game. Dallas is 29th in the league in passing yards per game (183.1). Tennessee is 30th, averaging just 173 yards per game through the air.
Both teams have struggled to find any kind of consistency out of their wide receivers, having arguably two of the least productive units in all of football. Dallas made a move to change that, however, bringing in Amari Cooper from Oakland in exchange for next year’s first round pick.
A hefty price paid given Cooper’s decline in production the last two years.
Both teams have questions surrounding their quarterbacks, and both fan bases seem split as to whether Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott can be the franchise qbs of the future.
Mariota and Prescott have led their teams to the playoffs, and both have regressed since then. With lucrative extensions on the line in the near future for both, Monday’s game on a national stage could go a long way in changing…or reinforcing their current perceptions.
Both quarterbacks are without their safety blanket tight ends that were so reliable for them in the past. Mariota is without Delanie Walker, who is lost for the season due to an ankle injury. Prescott is without future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten, who retired prior to the start of the season.
And both are still waiting on their replacement to step up to the plate as the predecessor.
Both teams were built on offense behind strong offensive lines that were considered among the best in the league two short years ago, and both have failed to play up to that level this season, making things even tougher for their embattled qbs.
On a positive note, both teams are still in their perspective playoff races because of their defenses. Dallas is second in the league in points allowed (17.6). Tennessee is one slot behind, giving up just 0.5 points more per game.
Both defenses have kept their teams in games because of their red zone stinginess. The Titans lead the league by allowing tds on just 33.3% of the drives in the red zone. Dallas is right behind them in second place, allowing tds on just 36.8 % of their red zone opportunities.
From what was just laid out, Monday’s game figures to be low scoring and heavy on field goal attempts.
Regardless of the outcome, the similarities between the two could come to an end by the final horn. One team will be at .500 at the halfway mark, and the other will be facing a steep uphill climb with more questions than answers still hovering over their heads.
Are you ready for some football?