MNF: Titans vs. Saints

Roydell Williams has been waiting for this moment ever since the Tennessee Titans drafted him in 2005. On Monday night, he finally returns to the Louisiana Superdome to play the team he grew up cheering for, the New Orleans Saints, on the field where he played in college.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made New Orleans -4 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Monday night's game, the over/under has been set at 45.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Tennessee +4 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

``It means a lot because I played there during college and ever since I got in the NFL, I was checking the schedule to see when we played the Saints at home, their home, just so I can get back and play in the dome again,'' the Titans receiver said.

Of course, it's not exactly the same field Williams played on at Tulane when he starred for the Green Wave. The building was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rebuilt in time for the Saints' magical homecoming a year ago.

Thankfully, Williams' family evacuated from their homes in Reserve, La., a 20-minute drive outside New Orleans. He didn't know anyone who rode out Katrina inside the stadium. He has been back to New Orleans six or seven times since Katrina and stood outside the Superdome.

But he hasn't been back inside since the building was renovated.

``I'm sure a lot of things have changed about the Dome. ... Once I get in there, I'll know what changes have been made,'' Williams said.

Williams and the Titans (1-1) can only hope that the receiver plays against the New Orleans Saints (0-2) the way he did in college. The 6-foot, 187-pound receiver scored 35 career touchdowns, 12 in his senior season.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2005, Williams is coming off his best game since his rookie season. He caught four passes for 72 yards, including a 48-yarder that is the Titans' longest pass play this year, and had a touchdown. He's now halfway to the eight catches he had in 2006.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Williams caught each pass Vince Young threw at him in a 22-20 loss to Indianapolis.

``He's improved since the day he got here. We're pleased. His training camp was a little unsettling for him because he battled injuries off and on, but he's now healthy, had a real good week of practice and we're happy to see it carry over into the game,'' Fisher said.

Saints cornerback Jason David played against Williams while with the Colts and thinks the receiver may be the fastest of the top three in Nashville.

``It's going to be a challenge. He's a downfield guy. He can stretch the field a little bit. We've just got to stop him,'' David said.

The Titans haven't leaned much on their passing offense yet, not while running for 282 yards at Jacksonville and 141 against the Colts. That could change against the Saints, who have given up 11 plays 24 yards or longer with five touchdowns.

Young, who has thrown for 200 or more yards in just four of his 15 starts, might be ready to air out the offense.

``You've got to ask Norm Chow that,'' Young said of the offensive coordinator when asked if he'd like to be turned loose.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees had his best day throwing the ball in 2004 while with San Diego, coincidentally against the Titans. He had a 149.2 passer rating with three touchdowns in that game.

But an offense that was the NFL's best in 2006 is searching for answers after scoring two touchdowns in the first two games.

Brees has more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (one). The Saints have had to throw to catch up, and Deuce McAllister has had 10 carries in the 41-10 loss at Indianapolis and the surprising 31-14 loss at Tampa Bay.

Not what was expected from a popular pick for NFC champion.

``Obviously expectations were high this year, and we do have a very good football team,'' Brees said. ``I think we're just trying to kind of find ourselves a little bit right now. I'm confident that that's going to happen very soon. We've addressed some of the issues that we've been having.''

Both teams are coming into their bye weeks. Returning home to New Orleans can only help the Saints.

They rode the emotions of their 2006 home opener to beat the Atlanta Falcons, and fans now are trying to rally them going into this game. Fisher is expecting a similar atmosphere for the Saints' first meaningful home game since their playoff win over Philadelphia.

``They're going to be ready to play. It's going to be a very difficult place to go in and play,'' Fisher said.

Williams agrees. The receiver who studied Joe Horn's speed out of his breaks on pass routes only arranged for up to eight tickets because friends and family probably can get closer without his help. He knows their loyalties will be split simply because of what the Saints mean to Louisiana.

``I'm pretty sure they'll lean more my way than the Saints' way,'' he said.

By: Staci Richards - - Email Us

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