Tennessee Titans 1-2
Indianapolis Colts 1-2
Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, Indiana
Kickoff Sunday at Noon CST
The Tennessee Titans travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to take on division rival Indianapolis Colts. The Titans and Colts have faced each other 39 times with the Colts owning the series 25-14 including six straight wins over the Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Also there is this:
Titans quarterback Jake Locker is injured and backup Charlie Whitehurst is expected to start in his stead if Locker can’t go. Locker has started slow in every game this season and was particularly shaky in the last game versus a very good Bengals team.
Andrew Luck is being hampered by an offense that seems intent on making running back Trent Richardson it’s focal point. Also, the Colts offensive line has given up five sacks thus far and Luck has been flushed from the pocket and under pressure. The Titans have gotten some good pressure this year they just need to be more consistent.
The Colts are ranked 17th against the pass and 17th against the run which seems about right. Lesean McCoy and Darren Sproles feasted on that defense to the tune of 280 all purpose yards in Week 2. Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball didn’t have quite that success but did find the end zone. The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t get as many opportunities in Week 3 but did some damage as well.
The Colts have had trouble covering tight ends this season and gave up three touchdowns to Julius Thomas in Week 1. Since then they have done better but did give up 86 yards to Zach Ertz in Week 2. They also gave up a touchdown to Jeremy Maclin who was lined up at the left slot position in that game. They are vulnerable over the middle.
This is the match-up to watch for me if you are the Titans. The running game absolutely will be important but the Titans need to get their passing game going too. If they can exploit this weakness and target the left side of the Colts coverage they could be successful. Both Greg Toler and D’Qwell Jackson have give up plays and free safety LaRon Landry is struggling to get them help over the top.
Unfortunately, Titans tight ends Delanie Walker and Taylor Thompson are both battling injuries. Walker practiced in a limited fashion Thursday while Taylor Thompson didn’t practice and is expected to miss the game. Walker is the more important of the two because he is an every down tight end.
For the Colts, defensively they look to be without standout linebacker Jerrell Freeman and defensive lineman Arthur Jones. Neither are expected to play Sunday and are big parts of the Colts defense. Freeman in particular will be missed.
Defensively, the Titans need to be careful not to let the Colts once again run all over them. The Titans have had no answers for the Colts the past several years and gave up a 14 point lead at home last season headed to a home loss. They simply cannot allow that trend to continue.
The Titans have an injury here that could impact their run defense as Titans defensive end Ropati Pitoitua has a knee injury and did not practice today. If he can’t go Karl Klug should start in his spot and expect Al Woods and Mike Martin to be rotated in. Unfortunately, right side linebackers Kam Wimbley and Zaviar Gooden (replacing starter Zach Brown who is now on injured reserve) have struggled against the run.
The Titans are ranked second in the league in pass defense in a stat that couldn’t be more misleading. Teams are very efficient passing and opting to run the ball down the Titans throat so the numbers are skewed. Second year right cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson has given up big plays including a touchdown reception by Andy Dalton last week. Titans free safety Michael Griffin is struggling as well.
The Titans pass defense will definitely be tested by Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Ahmad Bradshaw and the Colts tight end trio of Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and Jack Doyle. Doyle spent some time in camp with the Titans last season and was snagged by the Colts off their practice squad last year. Hilton had been limited in practice but practiced fully on Thursday. The Titans historically have given up big plays to running backs and tight ends.
In the return game, the Titans better hope place kicker Ryan Succup’s accuracy returns as he missed two field goals last week against the Bengals. Punter Brett Kern likewise needs a better game. The Titans must get their return game going and be mindful not to give up a big play of their own. Their special teams units have been dreadful.
Final game notes:
The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports with Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon announcing. Jerome Boger’s officiating crew will call the game. The high Sunday is expected to be 80 with a low around 50. Lucas Oil Stadium has a retractable roof and it is expected to be open for the game.
The Vegas line is currently moving but as of yesterday it was at Colts -7.5.
Final score prediction: