Concern: Saints’ elite run defense
There’s no question that not having Rankins around is a blow to the Saints’ elite run defense that ranks as the No. 4 unit in the NFL this season; however, as the Colts found out last week, it doesn’t mean New Orleans can’t shut out the ground game anyway.
In Week 15 without Rankins in the lineup, the Colts managed just 46 yards on 17 carries. Of course, some of that had to do with the Saints blowing them out, but still that’s just 2.7 yards per carry for a top 10 rushing attack.
To take it a step further, the Saints haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 40 games, including the playoffs.
The Titans cannot afford the same situation. Not only does the Titans effectively running the ball help the passing game via play action, but it also keeps the ball out of the hands of the Saints and their potent offense. The Titans can’t get caught up in a track meet on Sunday, and running the ball well with go a long way to avoiding that.