The Indianapolis Colts’ challenging four-game stretch started off with a disappointing 24-10 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and will be even more taxing with a short turnaround before Thursday night’s road game against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans (6-2) pulled ahead of the Colts (5-3) in the AFC South Division on Sunday, which means the Colts need to bounce back with a win or will fall two games behind.
The Colts are 2-2 on the road. The Titans are 4-1 at home. But the Colts have won the past two games in “Music City.”
Here’s all you need to know about Colts-Titans.
— Thursday, Nov. 11, at 8:20 p.m. (EDT)
— Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
— TV: FOX-59, Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (color), Erin Andrews, Kristina Pink (sideline)
— Video stream: Amazon Prime Video, Hannah Storm (play-by-play), Andrea Kremer (color analyst)
— Radio: WFNI 1070-AM ESPN “The Fan,” WLHK 97.1 HANK-FM, Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline), Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst); Westwood One, Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Tony Boselli (color analyst)
— Colts lead, 34-17 (0-1 in playoffs). Colts have won three of four.
— Last meeting, Week 13, 2019. Titans won, 31-17.
Colts: head coach Frank Reich; offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni; defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, special teams Bubba Ventrone.
Titans: head coach Mike Vrabel; offensive coordinator Arthur Smith; defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel; special teams Craig Aukerman.
Colts lost vs. Baltimore Ravens, 24-10
Titans won vs. Chicago Bears, 24-17
—OUT: TE Jack Doyle (concussion)
— QUESTIONABLE: TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee)
— OUT: S Dane Cruikshank (groin); WR Adam Humphries (concussion); CB Adoree Jackson (knee); TE MyCole Pruitt (knee/ankle)
Storylines/Things to Watch
— Run The Damn Ball: In a short week, both teams will want to stick to their strengths. Problem is, the Titans run the ball far more effectively than the Colts. Running back Derrick Henry’s 843 yards are 15 behind Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook for the NFL lead. Henry, the 2019 NFL rushing champion, has eight TD rushes. The Titans are sixth in rushing and eighth in rushing yards per play. The Colts are just 23rd in rushing and 31st in rushing yards per play.
— Wake Up Offense: The Colts failed to score in the second half of their loss to the Ravens. They ran four plays and gained one yard with one interception in the third quarter. Most of the yards after halftime came on a game-ending drive with the outcome decided. That enabled the Ravens to dominate time of possession and wear down a solid Colts defense. The Titans will look to do the same, establishing the run, eating up clock, and keep that defense on the field in a short week when bodies are still sore from Sunday. It’s incumbent upon Colts quarterback Philip Rivers to spread the ball around and move the chains, then convert in the red zone. The Colts made just two trips to the red zone last week.
— Turnovers Are Key: The Titans lead the league with a +10 turnover differential. New Titans cornerback Desmond King returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead in the win over the Bears. The Titans also recovered a fumble late. The Colts had a fumble returned for a touchdown as well as an interception that led to a go-ahead TD scoring drive against the Ravens. While they have taken care of the ball in most games, as last week showed, all it takes are a couple of mistakes to change a game dramatically.
— Colts LB Darius Leonard vs. Titans RB Derrick Henry: “The Maniac” showed why he’s the Colts defensive leader with 15 total tackles, including 13 solos, in the last game. But he’s facing a 6-3, 247-pound workhorse in Henry, who moves the pile when running inside and has the speed to break free for long runs when outside. The Colts will try to keep Henry inside and slow him before he can get chugging, but that’s easier said than done.
— Colts LG Quenton Nelson vs. Titans DT Jeffery Simmons: The Colts’ two-time All-Pro guard is facing the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week in Simmons, who forced two fumbles that the Titans recovered against the Bears, including one returned for a touchdown. Simmons often draws double teams, but Nelson is one of the best at his position.
— Colts CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Titans WR A.J. Brown: The Colts defender is having a solid bounce-back season, but is going up against one of the NFL’s emerging stars in Brown, who has 31 receptions for 457 yards (14.7 ypc) and six TDs in his second season. Both players like to play physical. Although Brown is listed at 6-0 and 226, he plays bigger than that because of his ability to make contested catches against handsy defenders.
— A few clouds, 2 mph northwest winds light and variable, temperature dropping into the 40s later in the night.
— Head referee: Brad Allen (seventh year). Click here to see all referee assignments for Week 10.
— Favorite: Titans (-2)
— Over/Under: 48.5
2020 Season Leaders
— Passing: QB Philip Rivers (2,087 yards)
— Rushing: RB Jonathan Taylor (416 yards)
— Receiving: WR Zach Pascal (297 yards)
— Touchdowns: RB Nyheim Hines, Taylor (4)
— Tackles: LB Darius Leonard (51)
— Sacks: DE Denico Autry (5)
— Interceptions: S Julian Blackmon, CB T.J. Carrie, CB Kenny Moore II, CB Xavier Rhodes (2)
— Passing: QB Ryan Tannehill (1,981 yards)
— Rushing: RB Derrick Henry (843 yards)
— Receiving: WR A.J. Brown (457 yards)
— Touchdowns: Henry (8)
— Tackles: LB Jayon Brown (65)
— Sacks: LB Harold Landry III (2.5)
— Interceptions: CB Malcolm Butler, S Amani Hooker (2)
Comparing 2020 Stats
— Total offense: 18th (360.5 YPG)
— Scoring: 15th (26 PPG)
— Passing offense: 14th (258.1 YPG)
— Sacks allowed: 1st (8)
— Rushing offense: 23rd (102.4 YPG)
— Third-down offense: 28th (38%)
— Red-zone offense: 24th (57.14%)
— Total defense: 1st (290 YPG)
— Scoring defense: 3rd (20 PPG)
— Passing defense: 3rd (206.4 YPG)
— Sacks: 12th (20)
— Rushing defense: 3rd (83.6 YPG)
— Third-down defense: 17th (41.51%)
— Red-zone defense: T19th (66.67%)
— Time of possession: 11th (31:11)
— Turnover differential: T6th (+4)
— Total offense: 10th (384.6 YPG)
— Scoring: 7th (29 PPG)
— Passing offense: 20th (237 YPG)
— Sacks allowed: T8th (12)
— Rushing offense: 6th (147.6 YPG)
— Third-down offense: 8th (46.39%)
— Red-zone offense: 2nd (80%)
— Total defense: 25th (394.1 YPG)
— Scoring defense: T15th (25.1 PPG)
— Passing defense: 27th (275 YPG)
— Sacks: 29th (10)
— Rushing defense: 18th (119.1 YPG)
— Third-down defense: 32nd (55.36%)
— Red-zone defense: 31st (79.31%)
— Time of possession: 29th (27:46)
— Turnover differential: 1st (+10)
— Rivers needs four passing yards to pass Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) for the fifth-most passing yards in franchise history.
— Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner needs eight tackles to reach 300 in his career.
— Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton needs one TD reception to tie Dallas Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving scores in franchise history.
— Linebacker Anthony Walker needs three tackles to reach 200 in his career.
— The Colts rank first in the NFL in opponent starting position at 24.6.
— The Colts defense has allowed the lowest opponent passer rating in the league at 78.5.
— The Colts are tied with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay for the league lead in interceptions with 11.
Click Before The Game
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(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is email@example.com.)