The Colts travel to Tennessee on a short week to take on their AFC South opponent Titans for the first of two matchups against the team in the next three weeks. This week, they play them on a short week on Thursday night football on NFL Network, with Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock on the call. On the radio, Bob Lamey and Jim Sorgi have the call on WFNI and WHLK. The game will also be broadcast nationally on Westwood One sports radio by Ian Eagle and Trent Green. Here's all you need to know to get ready for Thursday night's game.
What Happened Last Week?
The Colts were awful last week. Just terrible. They were outplayed and outcoached in every aspect in a 38-8 home loss to the Rams. But the positive is that it was just one game and that despite how bad they played - and it was everyone, including Andrew Luck who played bad - it only counts as one game in the record books. But last week, the Colts were awful.
Another team that had an embarrassing performance last week was the Titans. Playing the winless Jaguars, the Titans fell behind 13-0 and eventually lost by a score of 29-27. To the previously winless Jaguars. The Titans turned the ball over four times and in the loss they had another major loss as well, and that was the loss of starting quarterback Jake Locker, who is now out for the year. It was a terrible week for the Titans just like it was for the Colts.
It's Ryan Fitzpatrick Time for the Titans:
As I already mentioned, the Titans will be playing without starting quarterback Jake Locker this week and for the rest of the season, as he suffered a lisfranc injury that will require season-ending surgery. He missed two starts earlier this year and the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped up and played well - don't miss the fact that his two starts came against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks, not exactly the two easiest teams or defenses to play. In fact, perhaps the two hardest. For the season, he is completing 56.8% of his passes for 760 yards (7.1 yards per attempt), 4 touchdowns and 4 picks, while rushing for 94 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. Jake Locker was clearly the better of the two quarterback options the Titans had, especially considering his youth and potential, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the best backup quarterback options in the NFL and is in fact averaging more yards per game than Locker is on the season. He's not an easy quarterback to play and it's almost unfair to other backup quarterbacks to group him into that category, so don't expect it to be easy for the Colts. I mean, their pass defense was just torched by Kellen Clemens. Fitzpatrick poses a real threat, backup or not.
Chuck Pagano on Playing on a Short Week:
From the head coach himself in his presser on Tuesday, November 12, 2013:
How does this week's game plan change compared to what you'll do against them in a couple of weeks and how much of that is a product of this short week?"
Again, with the short week it's always going to affect your plan. There's base things that we carry over week-to-week in all three phases, tweak some things here and there. But again, on a short week you got to be smart, just because of time constraints and things like that, about doing things. But we're still going to do the things that we need to do in all three phases to give us a chance to win the football game. But we'll be mindful, as far as the plan in all three phases, of what our guys can handle and can't handle and trying to do too much in a short period of time. We can't go down there and be thinking in any of the three phases. We got to be able to play fast. The only way you can play fast is know exactly what to do when the play's called."
Would it be fair to say you simplified things this week?"
We try to do that, regardless of what you see or think, we try to do that every week. Because again, whether you have two or three days to get ready for a game or you've got a full week to get ready for a game or 10 days to get ready for a game during a bye week or whatever, we're going to game plan and then start to implement the game plan. Then as you implement the game plan, you're going to look at things and see what they can handle and what they can't handle. Then at the end of the day, if it's slowing your team down from a mental standpoint and they're thinking too much and they can't play fast, we got to throw it out, can't do it."
Huge AFC South Implications for Colts:
The Colts are 6-3 and hold a 2 game lead in the AFC South. Nobody could have realistically asked for or expected anything better from this team. They have beaten both the Jaguars and the Texans on the road and have a five game lead over Jacksonville and a four game lead on last year's division champion, Houston. That leaves the 4-5 Titans, who are 2 games behind the Colts when Indianapolis goes to Tennessee Thursday night to play. With a win, the Colts would take a 3 game lead over the second place team in the division and would have beaten all 3 division opponents on the road already this season, being 3-0 against the division. So, essentially, a win Thursday night for the Colts would almost guarantee them the AFC South crown, barring a stunning and unforeseen change of events. That was the first goal the Colts set up entering the season and that is what they wanted to achieve first, and a win Thursday night would go a long, long way in ensuring that happens.
Josh Gordy, CB (groin)
Delano Howell, S (neck)
Greg Toler, CB (groin)
Josh Chapman, NT (knee)
Mike McGlynn, G/C (thumb)
The Titans always play the Colts tough and the fact that it is in Tennessee won't make it any easier. The Colts have plenty of issues to work on that were clearly revealed last week, but the Titans have issues as well. The Colts need to get back to what they were doing before the bye week as much as they can without Reggie Wayne and Greg Toler on the field, and if they can do that and play good defense with a very dangerous offense then this game should absolutely go to the Colts. I don't think they'll get to that level Thursday night, but I do think that after the ugly loss on Sunday this team will be playing to prove something and I think that, while it won't be easy playing a division opponent on the road, I think the Colts will pull it out. Colts 23, Titans 20