Another week of Colts football is upon us! This week, Indianapolis will play host to the Tennessee Titans who are coming off an impressive 34-10 drubbing of the New England Patriots. In that game, the Titans’ defense was suffocating, causing the Patriots to punt on 6 of 12 possessions. They also forced a turnover on downs, and kept Tom Brady and company from scoring on drives just before halftime and the end of the game. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 52 yard attempt as well, as the Titans defense successfully kept the Patriots from scoring on 10 of their 12 possessions. Tom Brady looked rattled in this matchup, and his stats show it. Tennessee was able to get sacks on Brady 3 times as well as 7 total quarterback pressures. They also forced 4 pass deflections. Brady ended the day, going 21-41 for 254 yards 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions with a quarterback rating of just 29.5.
In today’s game, Indianapolis will face an obviously talented Titans defense who rank towards the top in most categories. They rank 1st overall in points allowed per game (16.8), 6th in yards allowed per game (328), 6th in pass yards allowed per game (228.2), and 11th in run defense with 99.8 yards allowed per game.
This is a team that is built a lot like the Jacksonville Jaguars team we saw Indianapolis play last Sunday. Defensively, this is a team that has playmakers and recognizable names at every level. In the secondary, cornerbacks Adoree Jackson and Malcom Butler will try and keep Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton from getting in rhythm, in the linebacker group, names like Wesley Woodyard and Brian Orakpo will try and keep the talented Colts tight ends contained, and on the defensive line, tackles Jurrell Casey and Austin Johnson will attempt to break through Indianapolis’ #2 ranked offensive line.
The Titans also have another, more unfortunate commonality with the Jaguars. Outside of last week’s win, the Titans offense has ranked near the bottom of the NFL this season in most categories. They’ve only managed 15 offensive touchdowns this season, and four of those touchdowns came in last week’s game. In points per game, they rank 28th (18.7), in total yards per game they are 30th (299), their 184.6 pass yards per game ranks 30th, and lastly, they rank 14th in rushing yards per game with 114.4.
Now that we’re familiar with our opponent, let’s take a look at what the Colts’ stats look like going into this week. Indianapolis brings a dynamic offensive attack, with the ability to put up a lot of points. Currently, the Colts rank 6th in the NFL in points per game (28.9), and quarterback Andrew Luck is second in passing touchdowns with 26. Luck also has a nice touchdown streak going, as he has compiled 6 straight performances of 3 or more passing touchdowns. This streak has only been matched twice in NFL history by quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Other offensive numbers for the Colts include, 9th in total yards per game (379.8), 12th in passing yards per game (266.2), and 15th in rushing yards per game (113.6).
Defensively, the Colts have been kind of a mixed bag. They’ve shown this season that they can force a lot of turnovers, as they posted 5 in one game (vs Buffalo Bills), but they’ve also shown that they lack depth in the secondary, as they’ve yielded as many as 17 completions in a row to opposing quarterbacks (Derek Carr/ Oakland Raiders). They’ve been great at getting to the quarterback one week, but follow up with a zero pressure performance the next. It has been a bit puzzling and frustrating at times for fans like myself, and I’m sure the same can be said of the players and coaching staff. One defensive thing has been consistent over the Colts winning streak however. The ability to create clutch turnovers in the closing minutes has been there in every win. They dismantled the Bills 37-5, and every turnover was a momentum boost in that game, in the matchup vs the Oakland Raiders, it was defensive rookie of the year candidate Darius Leonard punching the ball from Doug Martin’s arms, and against Jacksonville, it was cornerback Kenny Moore III that forced a fumble on the Jaguars final drive to survive a comeback attempt in the final two minutes. Perhaps Frank Reich’s mantra of having, “an obsession to finish” is finally sinking in. These Colts are buying what Reich in selling, and that has been very evident during the past few games.
I find this matchup to be eerily similar to the game played just a week ago in Lucas Oil Stadium. The stats and style of play the Titans and Jaguars have is almost indistinguishable. I think if the Colts can get off to a fast start as they did last week, then they’ll have a very good shot at climbing the AFC South ladder to second place this week. I see both teams ending the day at 5-5 as I’ve got Indianapolis winning this one 28-17.
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