When the Titans schedule was announced, this was the game everyone circled on their calendar. The Colts have won our division 5 straight years. If the Titans want the AFC crown, they have to take it from Indy. With our fast start, we’ve put ourselves in great position, but we have to beat the Colts to show people we’re for real. The Colts at 3-3, feel as though the season is slipping away from them. They’ve gone from being the clear favorite in the division, to its third best team. If not for an improbable fourth quarter comeback against the Texans, they’d be at the bottom of the division. Although it seems early to say, this is a loss that could knock the Colts out of the playoffs.
Titans Rushing offense vs. Colts Defense
This is the biggest mismatch in the game. The Titans offensive line is firing on all cylinders and the Colts keep giving up huge gains. Even if Bob Sanders does play (and for such a hard-hitting player its odd that he’s made of glass) the Colts, like everyone else, wont have a answer for Chris Johnson. While I don’t expect another 300 yard+ running day, we will have a big day on the ground against the Indy’s 28th ranked rush defense. Expect LenDale White to keep padding those touchdown numbers.
Titans Passing Offense vs. Colts Defense
I can’t say we’re a great or even good passing team. Kerry Collins has a-worse-then-Vince Young completion percentage of 56%. His third down completion percentage is even lower. Yet watching the games, I cant say he’s played poorly- in his worst game, against Baltimore, he had a sweet game-winning drive. (It had nothing to do with penalty calls, right Kellen?) Our starting receivers our banged-up, the Colts are average against the pass, but I’ll give them the edge here.
Colts Rushing Offense vs. Titans Defense
The Colts have averaged an anemic 3.3 yards per carry this year. As we go to press, Joseph Addai’s status is still uncertain. It looks like he wont play. Dominic Rhodes, his backup, has played well in limited duty against the Titans averaging 4.8 ypc. But lets not kid ourselves; Rhodes or a banged-up Addai aren’t going to get much done against the Titans. The Colts can beat us if we turn the ball over and Peyton has a big day. They wont beat us on the ground.
Colts Passing Offense vs. Titans Defense
This seems to be the biggest unknown of the game. Manning has been sacked 9 times(!) and thrown 7 interceptions this year. His passer rating is 80 (compared to a career 94). The Titans have an embarrassment of riches in the secondary: playmaker after playmaker. We’ve only allowed one passing touchdown. One. That means we’re on pace to allow 3 for the year. That’s crazy. And yet… I’ve seen too many Titans games where Peyton Manning finds streaking Colts’ receivers downfield.
Who can forget Rob Bironas’ game-winning 60 yarder. Hopefully the Titans wont need that Monday Night, but it should be noted that Bironas is a perfect this year. Colt’s kicker Adam Vinatieri has missed 3 already this year (all within 50 yards). Punters for both teams are having typically solid years. The Titans return game looks much better than at the start of the year, and I feel that they’ll take one to the house soon.
The Colts are not used to starting 3-3. They are front-runners. This is a desperation game for them. If the Colts have anything left in the tank expect to see it Monday night. On the flip side, Coach Fisher will have his team prepared, and the veterans on this team will know what to expect. Its been a few years since MNF came to Nashville, and the crowd at LP Field will be rowdy.
As well as the Titans have played this year, and as average as the Colts have looked, this game makes me nervous. If it was any other 3-3 team that couldn’t stop the run or protect its quarterback, this would be a no-brainer: Titan’s roll. But over the last two years, all these games have been close. I do think the Titans win, their advantage in the running game being the key factor. But I’ll be nervous.
Prediction: Titans 24-17