Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel sees Sunday's visit to the Cincinnati Bengals as an opportunity to change directions.
His defense, one of the worst in the NFL this season, faces an offense that has already allowed a league-high 28 sacks and could be missing three starting offensive linemen.
A mismatch? Perhaps. At this point, Vrabel is more concerned with making sure the Titans find solutions for their own struggles.
"We can't worry about their injuries," he said. "We have to focus on taking care of the Titans and dealing with our own issues as they work through the week."
The ugly stats tell part of the tale.
Tennessee (5-1) has allowed opponents to convert third downs at a rate of 61%, the worst in the league. The red-zone touchdown rate (80.9%) ranks 31st. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers have fewer sacks than the Titans' seven, and all of it comes after Tennessee presumably upgraded its defense by signing free-agent linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., the NFL's 2015 sacks champion, in the offseason and adding three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in September.
Instead of improving, though, the Titans have regressed.
"We're not as detailed as we need to be, whether it's third-and-short, third-and-medium or third-and-long," safety Kevin Byard said. "We're giving up all the varieties. We have to be better, and we have to go watch this film and continue to correct those things. It comes down to pride, honestly."
The Titans hope this is the start of a turnaround.
Yes, they are facing a talented rookie quarterback, No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow, who has been scoring points by the dozens. They're also playing a team that has blown leads in the past two games, lost three straight and struggled to stop the run — a bad combination with 2019 NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry coming to town.
Plus, Cincinnati's struggles could be amplified with right tackle Bobby Hart (knee) already ruled out and decisions still to be made on left tackle Jonah Williams (neck) and center Trey Hopkins (concussion protocol).
Bengals coach Zac Taylor believes injuries may not be the team's biggest obstacle, though, and that winning the turnover battle could be the real equalizer for Cincinnati (1-5-1).
"They're taking advantage of the tipped throws," Taylor said, noting the Titans' league-high plus-9 turnover margin. "When the ball's tipped up in the air, they go get it."
As for Burrow, he isn't just playing well, he's on pace for a record-breaking season.
He has tied the franchise record for most 300-yard games in a season (five) and needs one more to tie former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's NFL rookie record (six). Burrow headed into Week 8 leading the league in completions (195) and attempts (293) and No. 3 in passing yards (2,023).
If he keeps it up, he would break Luck's records for passes (627) and yards (4,374), Carson Wentz's rookie record for completions (379) and Kyler Murray's rookie record for fewest interceptions among players with at least 500 attempts (12), and Burrow would match Dak Prescott's rookie marks for completion rate (66.6%) and passer rating (89.4).
On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati continued its defensive overhaul this past week by trading disgruntled defensive end Carlos Dunlap to the Seattle Seahawks.
The two-time Pro Bowler had 82.5 sacks, second in franchise history behind Eddie Edwards (83 .5), but he became the sixth defensive starter from opening day 2019 to be jettisoned by the Bengals. Dunlap joins defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow, linebackers Nick Vigil and Preston Brown and cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and safety B.W. Webb as castoffs.
As for Tennessee's offense, the Titans had a four-game streak of scoring 31 or more points end with last Sunday's 27-24 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but their average of 31.4 points per game still ranked fourth in the league entering Week 8.
The Titans also have averaged 401.3 yards per game, have allowed seven sacks and again have the league's top rusher. Henry has 663 yards on the ground, and he has rushed for 75 or more yards five times this season, is second in the league this season with seven touchdown runs and can match the franchise record by scoring in his fifth consecutive game this week. Earl Campbell did it twice, 1979 and 1983, DeMarco Murray achieved the feat in 2016 and Henry did it last year.