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Why do you care that I don't have blind faith in the Nashville Predators?

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the most part, when it comes to sports, I’m most emotional about being unemotional.

I root for the Yankees and U.S. Soccer, and beyond that I tend to be detached. Certainly from the Titans and the NFL, which I cover twofold here and on The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone.PredsStand

The Predators put me in an awkward spot. I want them to do well. I’m a Nashvillian for over 20 years, I love a good story. They are a likable team with a generally enjoyable style of play.

But on the radio, I’m never going to get carried away with excitement over a local team. It just isn’t my approach. Maintaining some sort of distance from a team allows me to observe and analyze in a different way.

The flow of response to any pessimism about the Nashville Predators during their second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets has been truly remarkable.

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Guest column: First line earned Preds their first home Game 7

Party Fowl Online Ads 01By John Glennon, guest columnist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When last we saw the Predators' first line prior to Monday night, the trio of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson was trudging out of Bridgestone Arena following a Game 5 whipping at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets.Forsberg

As much as anything else, Winnipeg's win last Saturday was about the Jets' first line – Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler – going to toe-to-toe with the Preds' best and simply battering them.

 The Jets' big three finished that night with a combined eight points and a plus-seven rating, compared to a combined one point and a minus-six for Forsberg, Johansen and Arvidsson.

But it took all of one minute on Monday for the Predators' top line to make a statement that Game 6 would be different.

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Five-man line can be periodic pass-rush boost for Titans

mdi construction barNASHVILLE, Tenn. – Picture a five-man line: Derrick Morgan, DaQuan Jones, Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakpo and Rashaan Evans.OBrien

The offensive line across from those five have no choice but to start off singled up. Any help is coming from a tight end or a back.

That’s how the Texans lined up at time while Mike Vrabel was a defensive coach in Houston, and it’s sure to be part of the Titans’ new scheme.

That alignment basically winds up forcing those offensive linemen to have to pass set to the player in front of them.

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Pickers mailbag: How did the Titans know someone else wanted to trade up for Rashaan Evans?

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Welcome to a new edition of the mailbag. If you missed the big Periscope Friday, no problem. Here it is.

On to your questions.

Miracle

PK: We know Pittsburgh wanted up for Evans. Say the Ravens learn that, because Pittsburgh called them or a friendly team tipped them off. Of course you try to shop it to someone else. You want to see what the market has to offer. In this instance, you have a good sense, perhaps, that Evans is the target.

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Guest column: Surprise sub Scott Hartnell brought Predators much-needed nastiness

TicketsBar2By John Glennon, guest columnist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- He was never the fastest skater in the league to begin with, so it's safe to say that 17 seasons into his storied career – at the ripe old age of 36 – Predators forward Scott Hartnell isn't going to blind anyone with his speed.

StanleyCupPlayoffsBut the player who almost two decades ago earned the nickname “Baby Bull” still has plenty of bite to his game. That's exactly what the Predators needed heading into Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal series.

As close as this series has been, the big, bruising Winnipeg Jets were clearly winning the physical portion of the match-up through three games, in large part because of the colossus known as Dustin Byfuglien.

The Jets' 6-5, 260-pound Byfuglien had been doing a pretty good impression of the Abominable Snowman in the first three contests. He'd

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Jason Witten isn't going to move the Monday Night Football needle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – No one is tuning into Monday Night Football because Jason Witten is in the broadcast booth.

Tony Romo was a huge hit in his first year as a CBS analyst. While some felt he talked too much, his ability to forecast what was coming and tell us why was different, and better, than anybody else.MNF

And so in a copycat world, ESPN’s Monday Night Football’s fix post-Jon Gruden is Jason Witten, another ex-Cowboy going straight from the field to the broadcast booth.

He might be good, he might not.

But it’s another remarkable example of how star-struck ESPN and NFL broadcast partners continue to be, despite the constant failures of the approach.

When’s the last time you decided whether to watch a game or not based on who was on the call?

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Assessing three years of Jon Robinson trades

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jon Robinson has made 13 trades involving draft picks in his three years on the job, from the massive deal involving the 2016 No 1 pick to a seventh-round condition pick exchanges for a back end defensive linemen.

He’s remarkably unafraid to go up or down in the draft to get what he wants or to back out when he’s not in love with something.

Titans logofenceLast week he dealt up three times, turning six picks into four, but coming away with three players he coveted and a fourth he felt was too good to pass up.

Determining winners and losers in trades isn’t easy, particularly with a short turn around.

But I think he was 5-0 in 2016 in deals that netted him DeMarco Murray, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Dennis Kelly, Jack Conklin, LeShaun Sims and Kalan Reed.

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Under Jon Robinson, back end of Titans' nickel defense has been completely revamped

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With an archaic offense over the last few years, the Titans were late to the modern NFL trend.

It’s all about 11 personnel. That’s three-wide.

The Titans aren’t going to jump from 44 percent (the second least frequent use of the personnel) to the league-high 81 percent the Rams used. But Matt LaFleur came from the Los Angeles and seems highly likely to pull the Titans close to the NFL average of 59 percent, if not beyond it.ByardOAK

Defenses face a special challenge when they are trying to stop Delanie Walker, and they’ll face more of that in the passing game against Dion Lewis. But those two can be on the field and the Titans can be in three-wide all at the same time.

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