Doesn't it seem like the Colts just played the Titans? I'm not sure what the NFL was thinking putting the two games only three weeks apart, but I guess you play what is on the schedule. For the third time in four years, the Colts and Titans will play in Week 17 in Indianapolis (how about a little variety, please?) This year, however, the game actually has some meaning to it. In 2007, the Colts had the #2 seed already wrapped up, so it was Jim Sorgi time, when all the Titans needed was a win to get into the playoffs. QB Kerry Collins came in in relief of an injured Vince Young, and led the Titans to a 16-10 victory, leaving Browns fans pissed off.
2008 brought out the same scenario, but this time it was the Titans who weren't playing for anything, already clinching the #1 seed, and the Colts at a minimum still playing for seeding, but they might have had a Wild Card clinched at that point. Either way, the Colts defense shut down the backups for the Titans to the tune of 23-0. Both teams would then promptly lose their first game in the playoffs, which neither should have done.
Back in Week 14, the Colts shook off a three game losing streak on a Thursday night, defeating the Titans 30-28. Peyton Manning had 319 yards passing and 2 TDs in the win, leading the way for the Colts. The defense, however, did not play well at all, ranking as one of the worst defensive efforts in the entire NFL this season. Luckily for them, they get a chance to redeem themselves, especially after back-to-back great performances since.
This week is very simple for the Colts: win and they are in the playoffs. Let's find out how exactly they can get that done...
Statistical Comparison of Colts and Titans (Adjusted):
|Avg Start Pos||27.8||31||30.1||14||31.1||14||31.0||23|
|3 and Outs||3.10||6||4.29||6||4.11||22||3.94||15|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.624||5||0.812||13||1.170||31||1.010||3|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||39.34||15||40.59||29||39.75||12||36.71||5|
Statistical Keys to the Game:
- We'll start on offense for the Colts, where you should expect several long, time consuming drives for the Colts. The Titans give up the longest drives, time-wise, in the league. They also give up the most Plays per Drive, a stat that the Colts are best in the league at.
- The Titans, over the course of the season, haven't given up many big plays, as they are 4th best in Yards per Play. However, in the first meeting, Manning burned the Titans secondary on several occasions, having a perfect passer rating on throws of 15+ yards.
- For the third straight week the Colts will go up against a pretty good run defense. Here's hoping the results are similar to the previous two weeks.
- The Colts defense really struggled in all the Drive stats in Week 14, even though the Titans aren't very good at them. The Colts must force the Titans into their season average, or else it'll come down to the wire once again this week.
- The Colts have gotten pretty good at getting teams off the field on Three plays, meaning getting that initial first down will be critical for the Titans offense. They seemingly will be able to move it if they get that first First Down.
- The Titans are the second-most penalized team in the league, so much like last week, look for some drive extending, or drive killing, penalties. We get Ed Hochuli this weekend, so it should be officiated fairly.
Other Keys to the Game:
- Where's Randy Moss? Titans coaches apparently can't find a way to put both Moss and Kenny Britt on the field at the same time. I can't imagine they were saving their grand plan for both of them together for a meaningless Week 17 game, but I guess you can't put anything past a division rival.
- Trick plays from the Titans. Back in '08, the Colts successfully executed an onside kick. A few years before that, Fisher tried several onside kicks. Look for at least one from the Titans, as well as another trick play (a fake punt or flea-flicker).
- Will the Titans actually show up? It certainly seemed like they didn't last week against the Chiefs. I think against a divisional rival may make them play full-out, but we can't totally be sure until kick-off.
- More Colts getting healthy. It looks like Clint Session and Mike Hart may be available this weekend, with Session being the biggest addition. It's about time we heard some good news on the injury front.
The Colts have won three games in a row with their backs against the wall, and they seemingly have their "easiest" game ahead of them. Obviously no game is easy, but if the Titans play like they did last week, the Colts should have no trouble winning the AFC South. The Colts will be ready to play, and they should have the game wrapped up by the middle of the 3rd quarter.
Colts 35, Titans 17