The Titans, who continue to get efficient play from Collins, look to remain the NFL’s last unbeaten team when they face the Packers on Sunday.
Tennessee (7-0) has been winning with dominating defense, a strong running game and sound decision-making from Collins. The veteran is averaging 28.0 passes in his six starts, completing 58.2 percent of them with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s gone five straight games without being sacked, and has been sacked once in 170 attempts on the season.
Collins, though, was asked to throw the ball more than usual Monday night against AFC rival Indianapolis, and went 24-for-37 with 193 yards and no interceptions in a 31-21 Titans win. He needed to put the ball in the air with the Colts using four linebackers to slow a Tennessee ground game that set a franchise record with 332 yards rushing against Kansas City the previous week.
“We can’t be happy,” Collins said. “We’ve got to put this game behind us and focus on the next game. I think that’s what allowed us to put this streak together is the fact that regardless of what happened the week before, we are able to put it behind us and move on to the next opponent.”
That performance, however, was still a far cry from what was required from Collins in his last two games against Green Bay (4-3). He set a career high with 59 pass attempts - which he has since matched - for the New York Giants in a 34-25 loss Jan. 6, 2002, and put the ball in the air 53 times for Carolina in a 37-30 defeat Sept. 27, 1998.
Those were two of the three highest pass-attempt totals of Collins’ career, but he might not come close to approaching that in this contest with the Packers struggling to stop the run.
Green Bay is allowing 141.9 yards per game on the ground. The Titans, meanwhile, have averaged 145.0 rushing yards a contest.
The running back combination of Chris Johnson (626 yards, four touchdowns) and LenDale White (327 yards, 10 TDs) has helped Tennessee score 30 or more points in four of its last five games, its best stretch since scoring at least 30 in five straight early in 2003.
The outstanding rushing attack has complemented the NFL’s best scoring defense. Tennessee has allowed 87 points, 23 fewer than Pittsburgh and Baltimore (110).
“Each week every team gets an opportunity to go out and play. We’ve had seven opportunities and won each of our games,” Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “No one expects us to have an undefeated season, and that’s great, but we know every time we step on that field we have a shot to beat anyone we play.”
The Titans, though, will be facing a Packers team that has averaged 27.7 points per game, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is healthier after a bye week. Rodgers got a chance to rest after gutting out three straight games with a sprained right shoulder.
Rodgers did manage to play well during that span, completing 70.5 percent of his passes for 707 yards and six TDs with one INT. He completed 75.0 percent (21-for-28) of his attempts for 186 yards and a TD in a 34-14 victory over the Colts on Oct. 19, as Green Bay moved into a tie with Chicago atop the NFC North.
Harris, coming off his first Pro Bowl last season, was injured in the Packers’ Sept. 21 loss to Dallas, and initially there was concern that he might be out for the season.
Bigby’s hamstring injury has been overshadowed by Harris’ absence, but the safety’s physical presence was an important part of the Packers’ success last season. Bigby has missed five games.
“Obviously I think every team in the league has to deal with injuries,” Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman said. “How you weather that, in a lot of ways, factors into the success of your season. Now, we obviously had a little skid there. Didn’t handle it the way we would have liked to. There’s a number of variables for that. But that’s in the past. We’ve got a two-game winning streak here, and we want to make it three.”
This will be first meeting between the Packers and Titans since Oct. 11, 2004, when Tennessee won 48-27 at Green Bay.