I'm having a bit of déjà vu this week writing the preview for the Colts and Titans, as it seems we just saw these teams play two weeks ago. It's a little strange to see two teams play each other in such a short time period, as there isn't anything drastically different between the two teams. The only difference this week than Week 11 is both teams have a full week to prepare, rather than playing on a Thursday night. It's a small difference, but might play a big part Sunday.
Two Thursday's ago the Colts beat the Titans 30-27 in Nashville, a game which saw the Colts get down 14-0 after two Tennessee drives (what else is new lately?), but the Colts calmly came back, scoring 17 points at the end of the first half / beginning of the second half without the Titans running an offensive play, turning a 17-3 deficit into a 20-17 lead. It also was the one time since Week 5 that we've seen the Colts Offense control the game and play at the level they had each of the first five weeks. They also scored a game-clinching touchdown in the 4th quarter, which gave them some breathing room to close out the game.
Like I said above, there's nothing really new with either team from Week 11. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the Titans QB, Reggie Wayne is still hurt, and the Colts are two games ahead of the Titans, now just two games farther along in the season. The Colts have now beaten the Titans nine of their last 10 meetings, and haven't lost at home to the Titans (in a game they tried to win) since 2006. The Colts always find a way to beat the Titans at home, even in 2011. Let's hope the domination continues.
How do these two teams match-up? Let's take a look at the numbers and find some keys to the game:
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Titans:
|Orange Zone Eff||53.8%||19||52.2%||13||57.5%||11||61.4%||25|
|Avg Start Pos||29.8||14||27.1||5||31.5||8||30.2||18|
|3 and Outs||2.94||4||2.99||30||4.13||22||3.81||17|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.612||3||0.822||18||0.955||28||0.718||27|
Keys to the Game:
- The Titans are pretty much the epitome of an "average" team. They don't do many things great, and they don't do many things poorly. If the Colts execute, like they did for the final 3 quarters in Nashville, I don't think the Colts have any problems winning. They keep consistently saying their problem is execution, so it's as easy as fixing it, and they win.
- One of the keys from two weeks ago was on 3rd/4th down, which you can see the Titans are pretty good on both sides of the ball, especially on Offense, ranking 4th. In Week 11, they converted 54.5% of their 3rd/4th downs, while the Colts converted 46.2%. The team that fixes this the best on Defense will win. Unfortunately the odds say that will be the Titans.
- The Colts had excellent field position in their first match-up on both sides of the ball, and the Colts hold an edge here on the season as well. The fewer yards either team has to go the better.
- I said before the previous game that I thought Trent Richardson might finally have a decent game, and I was half right: Donald Brown was a stud, and it's clear why after looking at the numbers, and the Titans rank just 27th in RB Success Rate. Brown seems to always play well against Tennessee. Time for the coaching staff to let him again.
- I'd really, really like to see Andrew Luck have a huge game, something he really hasn't done yet this year. It also means they'll have to take more shots down the field, which might go against both the offensive philosophy, and the fact that Michael Griffin is suspended this week. T.Y. Hilton seems to play best indoors, so I expect a big day from him. We also should see another big game from Coby Fleener, who definitely has stepped up since the loss of Reggie Wayne.
A win Sunday by the Colts makes winning the division a virtual lock, as they'd have to lose out with the Titans winning out to lose the AFC South. Even with a loss the Colts will be in the driver's seat with home games against the Texans and Jaguars, and winning both of those would also give the Colts the division. I've said here multiple times that I don't think the Colts decide to play to their potential unless there is something on the line, or their backs are against the wall, which unfortunately isn't the case this week. It's why the four point spread in Vegas has me leaning heavily on taking the points.
But we also all know by know the Luck-Pagano Colts haven't lost back-to-back games yet, and coming off the beating they took last Sunday in Arizona, they'll be testing that streak once again against this same Titans team. They won't always be able to follow up a loss with a win, but until we see the Colts do it, I'm not going to go against them, computer numbers be damned. It worked two weeks ago, so let's hope going against the numbers works out again.
Colts 28, Titans 27