(Mandatory Photo Credit: Marc Lebryk / USA Today Sports)
Written By: Joseph Yun
The Titans pay a visit to their eternal rivals in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon. A Colts team with a new signal caller and a suspect defense missing a few pieces here and there. Coach Vrabel will have to scheme up a dandy to upset the favored Colts with a full game instead of half of one. Can Frank Reich and Indy continue their winning ways after upsetting the high-flying Chiefs last week? Which team will fall to the AFC South basement behind the surprising upstart Jaguars and retooling Texans? Is there any competitive hope for these two teams even with a win?
Colts key numbers + info
HC: Frank Reich (38-29-1 career)
OC: Marcus Brady
DC: Gus Bradley
2022 Record: 1-1-1 (0-1-1 AFC South)
PPG Against: 20.33
Rush yards: 313
Rush yards allowed: 231
Avg. per rush attempt: 4.0
Avg per attempt allowed: 2.6
Pass completion rate: 64%
Pass completion allowed: 66%
Leading Rusher: Jonathan Taylor (61 attempts for 286 yards and one touchdown)
Leading Receiver: Michael Pittman, Jr (17 receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns)
Leading Tackler: Zaire Franklin (30 tackles, two tackles for loss, one pass defense)
Key Additions: QB Matt Ryan, DE Yannick Ngakoue, CB Stephon Gilmore, Matt Haack, S Nick Cross (rookie), OT Dennis Kelly, WR Alec Pierce (rookie), TE Jelani Woods (rookie), QB Nick Foles
Key Losses: LB Shaquille Leonard (Injured), P Rigoberto Sanchez (IR), CB Rock Ya-Sin, QB Carson Wentz, TE Jack Doyle (retired), S Khari Willis (retired), K Rodrigo Blankenship
The Colts lead the all-time series 35-20-0. Tennessee currently owns 13-28 against the Colts since the 2000 season when they began facing Indianapolis as the Titans. They have won four of the six past matchups.
Keys to a Titans Victory
First Half Carryover
- The Titans are downright electric in the first half but borderline unwatchable in the second half offensively. They were mixing things up with passes to nearly everyone last week including Derrick Henry against the Raiders. Can they finally put together a competently fun complete game for a change instead of melting down after the break? Henry looked very spry for the first time this season running seemingly at will before mysteriously disappearing at halftime. Can Todd Downing and Tim Kelly conjure up something resembling an NFL-level offense after their script runs out?
Diversify the attack
- Find some other options outside of target maven / blocking tight end expert Geoff Swaim. Tennessee signed Austin Hooper for a reason. Use him! Treylon Burks has emerged somewhat alongside Robert Woods. Continue that trend. Heck, use Henry more out of the backfield. The Colts are surely expecting a game plan featuring a load of Derrick Henry up the middle so diversification is needed. Run some Tannehill zone reads for fun, even. Why not throw in some Malik Willis wildcat packages?
- Once again, the Titans have one of the largest injury reports in the league, including at the linebackers and secondary levels. Fortunately, the Colts aren’t that threatening up front given their lack of weapons outside of Jonathan Taylor. DC Shane Bowen will have his work cut out scheming around several critical injuries like Amani Hooker, Ugo Amadi, Bud Dupree, Zach Cunningham, and Kristian Fulton limping along and/or out. The offensive line isn’t without concern but they looked improved without Taylor Lewan so that’s a thing.
Keys to a Colts Victory
Weather the Storm
- The Titans have been notorious for their first-half starts, only to wither away in the second half this season. Indianapolis simply has to withstand the flurry of punches that Tennessee will throw until the offensive malpractice kicks in. If they can hang around until then, they have an outstanding chance as the Titans have been outscored to the tune of 57-7 in the second half. The Colts have plenty of weapons capable of delivering the fatal blow in winning time. The offensive line just has to be average instead of the tire fire it has been as of late.
- He’s arguably one of the best backs in the league when healthy so it was certainly a decision to rely on the inconsistent Matt Ryan to deliver the past several weeks. Not that the future Hall of Fame quarterback isn’t up to the task but he’s aging poorly. Taylor is an ascendant star and has superseded rival Derrick Henry. Ride him against an extremely suspect Titans’ run defense to a surefire victory.
- Michael Pittman is the surefire WR1. We all know that but is there a WR2 willing to step up? The second leading receiver is actually running back Nyheim Hines. Can rookies Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods deliver on their immense promise against a wounded secondary?
Repeat the defense
- The defense was stout against the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs last week. In comes Tennessee with an inconsistent offensive attack. Indianapolis still has a pretty solid front seven despite not having star linebacker Shaquille Leonard for the first three games. DeForest Buckner is the star but Grover Stewart is the underrated glue guy. Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo are young talents. Yannick Ngakoue is the veteran presence. Can the front hold on against Derrick Henry when they let Ryan Tannehill be Ryan Tannehill?
Injury Report - Titans @ Colts
What are the Odds?
BetMGM has the Colts being four-point favorites at -110, the money line being -150 for Indianapolis, and the Titans being +150. over/under is set at 43.
Caesar’s has the Colts being 4.5 point favorites at -110, the money line being -189 for Indianapolis, and the Titans being +158. The over/under is set at 43.
WynnBet has the Colts being 3.5 point favorites at -110, the money line being -189 for Indianapolis and the Titans being +155 over/under is set at 42.5.
DraftKings has the Colts being 3.5-point favorites at -110 with the money line being -179 for Colts and the Titans being +155. over/under is set at 43.