Tennessee Titans have a chance to make a statement against Colts

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

Usually, you can expect a rematch between division rivals to hit some familiar beats, but this game between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts feels different.

In their Week 4 matchup, the Titans committed themselves to stopping the run and they did an incredible job. Jonathan Taylor had 20 rushes for just 41 yards, and that lack of success put tremendous pressure on Matt Ryan.

After that game, the Colts’ offense wandered aimlessly on a short week against the Denver Broncos, and then something strange happened. With both running backs hurt, the Colts’ offense which is built around running the ball and throwing quick passes to tight ends, was forced to throw the ball 58 times.

And they won.

So now the Colts have to be having a slight identity crisis and Jonathan Taylor is expected to play this weekend. For the entire season the Colts’ passing game has been a massive liability, but what will they do now?

The Tennessee Titans have to be prepared for an offense that leans into more tempo and more passing, but that gives them a big opportunity to make a statement.

How the Tennessee Titans can make a statement

In their last matchup, the Tennessee Titans were gashed through the air because of their commitment to stopping the running game for the Colts. However, that wasn’t the only reason that the Titans were struggling on defense.

A major issue was that the Titans didn’t have their starting slot cornerback Ugo Amadi (until Elijah Molden is back) and they didn’t have starting safety Amani Hooker. Both of those things should change this week, and that should have ripple effects throughout the defense.

Amadi being back should allow Roger McCreary to mimic Kristian Fulton as a full-time boundary cornerback. That takes advantage of his sticky coverage skills and it minimizes the impact of his shorter arms and lack of elite speed.

Hooker should also help limit the explosive plays that the defense has been getting gashed over the last two games. He has the athleticism to patrol the deep part of the field and the size and physicality to make plays against tight ends and running backs in the passing game.

One other key addition to the Tennessee Titans defense will be the return of Bud Dupree. The last time Titans fans saw Dupree he was securing a fumble recovery against Matt Ryan in Indianapolis. After having weeks to heal up from his injuries, he should be ready to come out and make some plays versus Dennis Kelly and Braden Smith.

If the Colts try to win the game by passing the ball 60 times this week, the Tennessee Titans’ defense can pin their ears back and show them that whether they want to run the ball or pass the ball, they aren’t good enough to beat the back-to-back AFC South Champions.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost three-straight games including one to the Houston Texans (their only win of the season). If the Titans can put away the Colts on Sunday, they can put themselves two games ahead of Indy in the AFC South race and really increase their playoff chances.