Game Scout: Colts at Titans

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at Tennessee Titans (4-5)
Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville - TV: NFL Network
*TV announcers: Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan
*Keys to the game: The glimmer of hope for the Titans is the Colts allow 4.3 yards per carry while ranking 26th in the league defending the run. Titans backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is a turnover waiting to happen, with four interceptions in 111 pass attempts and having the ball ripped out of his arms and returned for a touchdown last week. If Tennessee falls behind early and becomes one-dimensional, the stands will empty quickly. The Titans are using power back Shonn Greene to spell Chris Johnson, and must use the ground and pound approach to play keep-away and control the clock. Colts coach Chuck Pagano is admittedly frustrated with his ground game, with RB Trent Richardson down to 2.8 yards per carry and often missing the few holes created for him by the offensive line. Left without a ground game - and WR Reggie Wayne - Indianapolis' offense is a shadow of the one that led upsets of San Francisco and Seattle. The Titans don't apply a ton of heat on the quarterback, but they must get to QB Andrew Luck, who threw three picks and was sacked three times in last week's blowout home loss to St. Louis.
*Matchup to watch - Colts offensive line vs. Titans DTs Sammie Hill/Jurrell Casey: Richardson is getting heavily panned for his lack of production since being acquired from Cleveland, but he's an inside runner who isn't finding many holes to run through. Rookie RG Hugh Thornton took over for injured Donald Thomas and has struggled the past two weeks, while Jeff Linkenbach will start if LG Mike McGlynn can't play due to a cast protecting his injured left thumb.
*Player spotlight - Titans CB Alterraun Verner: Verner, who is tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions, is expected to shadow Colts deep-threat WR T.Y. Hilton, who has 14 catches for 251 yards and three touchdowns in two games since Reggie Wayne suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
*Fast facts: Luck has 10 game-winning touchdowns drivers, the most through the first two seasons of a career in the NFL since 1970. ... Titans WR Kendall Wright leads the team with 292 yards after the catch this season.
The Colts attempted to instill drama into this matchup by getting trounced at home by Kellen Clemens and the Rams last Sunday. The Titans then promptly coughed up a game to winless Jacksonville, losing their quarterback - and ability to compete against quality teams - in the process.
*Our pick: Colts 27-16

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