The second to last game of the season could be a decider for a Redskins' playoff berth, traveling to Nashville against a 2017 playoff team in the Tennessee Titans on Week 16.
Tennessee Key Additions: Signed WR Michael Campanaro, NT Bennie Logan, ILB Will Compton, G Xavier Su'a-Filo, QB Blaine Gabbert, OT Kevin Pamphile, RB Dion Lewis, CB Malcolm Butler
Tennessee Key Subtractions: DT Sylvester Williams, DT Karl Klug, S Da'Norris Searcy, RB DeMarco Murray, ILB Avery Williamson, QB Matt Cassel, QB Brandon Weeden
Coming off a Cinderella season, Tennessee looks to return to the playoffs with added depth and a rising star in quarterback Marcus Mariota. After a respectable 9-7 season, the Titans earned their way into the AFC Wild Card game and advanced to the Divisional Round by beating the Chiefs by one point at Kansas City.
Although Mike Mularkey and the Titans decided to part ways after 2017, Mike Vrabel was brought in as the new head coach and brings 17 years of NFL experience. As a former linebacker in the league, the three-time Super Bowl champion served as the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans last season and looks to continue the momentum from the previous year.
While the Titans ranked in the upper half in fewest yards per game given to opposing offenses last season, their defense needed to get better were it to make a deeper run in the playoffs.
Their secondary got a tremendous boost with the addition of former New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Not only did the two-time Super Bowl champion seal the deal with his interception in Super Bowl XLIX, he has established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Combining for 205 tackles and 47 passes defensed in four seasons, Butler's contributions on defense helped the Patriots reach the playoffs during that stretch and played a critical part in New England allowing the fifth-lowest point total in 2017.
With Butler helping the passing game, nose tackle Bennie Logan was brought in to improve Tennessee's run defense. Not only has the former LSU product combined for 215 tackles in five NFL seasons, his stoppage against the running game prevented Kansas City from giving up huge yardage. The Chiefs' longest run given up by the defense was 27 yards, which was the lowest for one play last season.
Former Redskins inside linebacker Will Compton will have experience going up against the offense now as a member of the Titans. The best season of the five-year veteran's career came in 2016, when he totaled for 106 tackles while coming up with five passes defensed.
After making the decision to cut DeMarco Murray this offseason, the Titans were in need of a solid running back. Even though Dion Lewis had a history of injury troubles, he is coming off his best season with the Patriots. Playing a full 16-game season, the seven-year pro running back totaled 896 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
Not only does Lewis present an option as a tough runner, he can also become a reliable receiver in the passing game. He managed to come down with 214 receiving yards and scored three receiving touchdowns for the Patriots last season. If Lewis can stay healthy, he could be a formidable weapon in Tennessee's running game.
The last meeting against the Titans gave quarterback Colt McCoy confidence in the NFL. After being inserted in the second half once the Redskins were trailing 10-6 in a 2014 game, the former Texas quarterback completed 11-of-12 passes and threw the only touchdown for Washington that resulted in a 19-17 win.
With the Redskins winning the previous two matchups against the Titans, Washington could be celebrating more than just the third straight victory against Tennessee if it means punching a ticket into the playoffs in the second to last game of 2018.