Here are my three key matchups for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on defense.
Adrian Clayborn vs Michael Roos
Getting quick pressure is key to stopping any passing attack, but the Bucs could really struggle to get to the quarterback on Sunday. The Titans have given up just 14 sacks this year, which ranks second in the league. Sacks are largely a function of a quarterback's ability to get rid of the ball quickly, but in the Titans' case the offensive line's excellence as pass blockers has played a large role as well.
The star offensive lineman is of course the left tackle, Michael Roos. Adrian Clayborn will be tasked with beating the veteran offensive tackle, but despite his quality play so far this season he will likely struggle to get past Michael Roos. Adrian Clayborn's four sacks lead the team, and he's been a disruptive force throughout the season, but can he keep that up against the Titans?
Tanard Jackson vs Chris Johnson
Tanard Jackson has been a blessing for the Bucs' passing game, but has been absolutely horrific as a tackler. According to Pro Football Focus, the safety has missed a ridiculous 44% of his tackles. Chris Johnson has been fairly terrible this year, but you don't need to be play at a high level to make Tanard Jackson miss this year.
Of course, it doesn't need to be Johnson who blows by Jackson - it could be any other running back or receiver, really. If Jackson cannot improve the quality of his tackling, the Bucs are likely to give up a lot of big plays to an offense that really doesn't produce many.
Aqib Talib vs Nate Washington
Aqib Talib is coming off perhaps his best game as a pro, in which he shut down one of the NFL's top wide receivers: Greg Jennings. But Talib's ability has really never been in question, his consistency and focus has. He gives up a few too many big plays each year simply through sloppy play, and he has games in which he just disappears.
Washington isn't a star receiver by any means, but he is the Titans' best receiver and if the Bucs shut him down, Hasselbeck won't have many other places to go with the ball. Taking away Hasselbeck's first option will obviously help the Bucs shut down the Titans' passing game, and if Hasselbeck starts forcing balls the Bucs could feast on his weak arm.