In the blink of an eye, the Colts are relevant again. Some explosive offense, a brick wall of an offensive line, and a whole lot of momentum later and the Colts find themselves standing 4-5 and only two games back of the division. Standing in the way of a shot at the playoffs, which seemed so impossible five weeks ago, are the erratic Tennessee Titans. Figuring out the Titans is as hard as rocket science. On week they blow out the Patriots and the next they can’t muster up enough points to beat the Bills. Coming off of a convincing win over the Patriots, Tennessee should carry considerable momentum. However, the last AFC South team that blew out New England hasn’t fared well since. If the Colts can win on Sunday, a playoff berth no longer seems so far-fetched.
TE Ryan Hewitt (Ankle)
S Malik Hooker (Hip/Illness)
CB D.J. Killings (Ankle)
TE Erik Swoope (Knee)
WR Ryan Grant (Ankle)
CB Nate Hairston (Ankle)
G/T Le’Raven Clark (Not Injury Related)
S Clayton Geathers (Knee)
T/G Denzelle Good (Not Injury Related)
C Ryan Kelly (Knee)
LB Darius Leonard (Hamstring)
RB Marlon Mack (Not Injury Related)
CB Chris Milton (Not Injury Related)
S Mike Mitchell (Calf)
C/G Quenton Nelson (Back)
DE Kemoko Turay (Neck)
LB Anthony Walker (Neck)
RB David Fluellen (Knee)
WR Taywan Taylor (Foot)
WR Tajae Sharpe (Ankle)
G Quinton Spain (Ankle)
OT Jack Conklin (Concussion)
DB Dane Cruikshank (Knee)
G Corey Levin (Illness)
LB Derrick Morgan (Shoulder)
Titans’ Running Backs vs Colts’ Linebackers
Coming into the season, the Titans were supposed to feature a dominant two-headed rushing attack consisting of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Thunder and lightning, if you will. 11 weeks into the season, the duo hasn’t dominated opposing defense like they were supposed to. For much of the season, the Titans’ offense has been ineffectual. However, Derrick Henry has finally been gaining some steam over the past three weeks after an abhorrent start to the season, scoring his only four touchdowns in his last three games. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping, Dion Lewis has been a steady presence for the Titans running and passing attack.
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Luckily for the Colts, Darius Leonard has played like a maniac on a mission this season, leading the NFL in tackles despite missing a game. His tackling is going to have to be sharp in order to combat Derrick Henry’s bruising style and Dion Lewis’ shiftiness. Anthony Walker, as well as Leonard, will need to be diligent in their technique and disciplined with their pursuit angles to choke off Tennesee’s ground attack.
Colts’ Interior Offensive Line vs Titans’ Interior Defensive Line
In case you missed it, the Colts’ offensive line has played pretty well over the last five weeks. Four games without a sack allowed which is really five, given that Andrew Luck’s last sack taken was the first play against the Patriots five weeks ago. Taking away nothing from Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith, the interior offensive line, led by Quenton Nelson, has been the driving force of this offensive line. Nelson, Mark Glowinski, and Ryan Kelly have anchored the run game and held the integrity of Andrew Luck’s pocket.
Standing between the Colts and five straight games without giving up a sack is a formidable Tennessee defensive line. Spearheaded by Jurrell Casey, the Titans’ defensive line is the driving force behind the NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense. Casey’s staunch presence disrupts offensive linemen’s stances, leading to many blown up runs in the backfield. His ability to collapse the pocket allows his talented edge compatriots–Harold Landry and Derrick Morgan–to bend around the edge and get to the quarterback. Limiting Casey’s impact will be key in keeping Andrew Luck clean.
Despite their current momentum and high profile defense, the Titans are too inconsistent to slow down the red-hot Colts on their home turf.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.