The Indianapolis Colts try to get above .500 for the first time since 2010 as they take on the Tennessee Titans today at 1 pm at LP Field inNashville,TN.
The Colts have had major issues in their first two road games this year, losing both in terrible fashion. As good as rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has been playing at home (averaging 271.3 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 4 games), he’s been just as bad away from home (throwing for more yards – 294.5, but no touchdowns and 5 interceptions). Granted, those two games were against some of the stingiest pass defenses in the league, but if the Colts want to make noise at all this season, they need to find a way to win away from the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
This week may not necessarily present them their first real good shot at doing just that. The Titans enter this game with a 3-4 record, but have logged in impressive wins overDetroitandPittsburgh(ok, “impressive” may be an overstatement, but based on the talent the Titans have at their disposal currently, they are still good wins). But the Titans defense is definitely a weak spot, allowing 281.4 yards through the air, 134.7 on the ground, and giving up an NFL worst 34 points per game. In fact, the only game this season in whichTennesseehas kept its opponent under 30 was the Steelers game, whenPittsburghonly scored 23.
If the Colts are to take advantage of this, their offense has got to play clean football. The offensive line has to have another decent game blocking, and not get called for dumb false start or holding penalties. All pass catchers not name Reggie Wayne need to learn actually hold on to the balls thrown their way. And the run game (Vick Ballard or Donald Brown, doesn’t matter) needs to have another decent game averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Oh, and this Luck kid needs to limit his interceptions.
3 Things to Watch
Chris Johnson vs. Colts run defense – Ever since going for 2,000+ yards and signing a huge contract, running back Chris Johnson has been a big disappointment. Prior to last week, he had been averaging around 50 yards per game, and failed to score a rushing touchdown. Enter the Bills last week, and Johnson explodes for 195 yards and 2 scores. If there is a defense where he can legitimately try to duplicate that success, it’s against a Colts defense that ranks 26th in yards (141.7) and rushing touchdowns allowed (8).
Andrew Luck vs. Titans pass defense – Tennessee enters week 8 with a weak pass defense (see above). Not only do they rank 27th in yards allowed, they have only gotten to the opposing quarterback 9 times in 8 games, have only intercepted 5 passes, and have given up 16 touchdowns. Even as a rookie, if you give Andrew Luck time to stand in the pocket and let the play develop (something he’s not had much so far due to injuries on the Colts offensive line), he could have the best game of his young career Sunday. But the receivers still need to catch those passes.
Shoot-out potential – With as many yards and points as these two teams are allowing this season, it’s hard to ignore the fact that there could be a lot numbers put up today. Both quarterbacks are playing decent football. Both have been very average at running the ball (save for CJ2K’s performance last week). So its going to come down to which defense makes the most plays.
My 5 Predictions
Andrew Luck -Luck has the same kind of work ethic and mentality regarding his self-critiquing that we saw from Peyton Manning all those years. That means Luck will do everything he can to make sure his third away game doesn’t mirror his first two. Luck lights it up, going for 325 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.
Reggie Wayne – If Luck manages to turn it on againstTennessee, who do you think will be the biggest recipient of that? Yep, Reggie Wayne. He catches 11 balls for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Johnson – Johnson’s not going to go for 195 yards again. I guarantee that. The Colts run defense isn’t good by any stretch, but they did hold the league’s leading rusher (Adrian Peterson) to 60 yards on 16 carries back in week 2. That being said, he will go for 110 and 2 touchdowns.
Colts running backs – Regardless of whether its Donald Brown or Vick Ballard getting the majority of the carries, they need to be effective and keep the offense on the field. They won’t crack a hundred, but go for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Final Score – Colts win it, 34-31.
Follow me on Twitter @expertfan1