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The Colts are two-point underdogs on the road in this matchup and are coming off of a loss against the Ravens with a lot to prove. This game should have plenty of implications in the AFC playoff race while also featuring the top two teams in the AFC South.
Here’s how the Colts Wire staff sees the matchup unfolding on Thursday night:
Kevin Hickey (@KevinHickey11): Colts 22, Titans 19
Like most of the games the Colts have played this season, this is a tough one to predict. Both of these teams know each other well, especially seeing as both Frank Reich and Mike Vrabel started their respective tenures in the same season in 2018.
But the Colts have a chance to bounce back after a tough loss at home against the Ravens. The Titans defense isn’t what it used to be. They are 25th in pressure rate (19.1%) and dead last in sack rate (3.06%). That will be the key for the Colts offense to have success. When Philip Rivers has protection—and T.Y. Hilton—he finds success.
Where this game will be determined is in the trenches. Stopping Derrick Henry is the game plan and while most teams don’t have a chance in slowing him down, the Colts do. Their elite run defense is first in yards per carry allowed (3.3) and third in rushing yards per game allowed (83.6). They win this game because they contain Henry.
Divisional matchups are almost always unpredictable, and this falls into that category. But the Colts have a chance to bounce back on offense against a poor Titans defense while also having the scheme and personnel to stop the human train that is Henry.
Sam Sinclair (@samsinclair96): Colts 31, Titans 28
In what is the most important game for the Colts so far this year, they’ll head south to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans in a battle for first place in the AFC South.
Things I’ll be watching for is if the Titans offense can move the ball early with the run game. Their offense runs through their All-Pro running back Derrick Henry, and their pass offense is mostly play-action. If the Colts can get the Titans into a pass-first approach, that could help out a lot as the Titans are dealing with injuries along the offensive line.
For the Colts offense, they must get back to how they played the last two weeks against the Bengals and Lions. The Titans are 18th in the NFL in DVOA and have had a season-long struggle to get their defense playing at a sufficient level. Tennessee struggles to get pressure on the QB, so expect Rivers to have a big game.
This is a tough game to predict. Both teams are very evenly matched, and both know this game will go a long way into deciding who wins the AFC South and gets a home playoff game in January. While the Titans are 6-2, five of their wins have come by fewer than seven points. Even with the Titans being a two-point home favorite, I’ll take the Colts in this one.
John Alfieri (@alfierijohn): Titans 27, Colts 17
In a short week in which the Colts struggled offensively against the Ravens, this one on the road does not look favorable for Frank Reich and company. The Titans have proven they can go toe to toe with just about any team in the league, and the Colts have struggled to show that thus far.
Stopping Derrick Henry will be the key in this one. The Colts run defense has been stellar all season, and they will need to bring their “A-game” against one of the league’s best backs.
Where this game will be tough for the Colts will be stopping the passing game with Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown. They have had a stellar connection all season, and the Colts do not have a No. 1 corner that can shut down a receiver of Brown’s caliber.
The Colts will have to be able to move the ball on the ground in order to beat Tennessee. The way the past few games have gone, this is an unfavorable matchup. All is not lost with a loss, but the Colts will have to right the ship going forward to keep their playoff hopes alive.
1. Kevin (7-1)
2. Sam (6-2)
3. John (5-3)