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The truth about Marcus Mariota and the Titans

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Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

I’ve been a football fan as long as I can remember and have a strong appreciation for all the great rivalries across the sport.

Colts/Titans isn’t a rivalry.

In fact, a quick Wiki search yielded a budding rivalry between the Titans/Texans and Titans/Jags. This makes sense because those teams have basically battled for the bottom of the Division during much of the AFC South’s existence. Somebody has to be the whipping boy.

Sure, for the last couple years, the Colts have taken their own lumps.


You’ll notice I normally don’t write my work. I’m the video content creator for this website.

I felt compelled to write because one of my colleagues informed me that for the first time this year, the “enemy” blog for the week did not respond to our Q&A request.

We made up our own and I can assure you, we hold nothing back.

I’m not personally insulted. I have no emotional ties to this match-up because again, this isn’t a rivalry. I do see it as a sign of disrespect, though.

Perhaps this can be the start of something beautiful.

We here at Stampede Blue have a strong rapport with all of the other NFL blogs on SBNation and consider those we work with from other teams colleagues of ours even if they do not return that sentiment. My intent is to be at the combine because I live in Indianapolis and even the draft if I can muster it. I can promise you that I personally intend to develop a relationship with people who also create NFL content regardless of the colors they rock on the weekend.

I expect the same out of “enemy” blogs.

Moving along.


This game is important for both teams but for completely different reasons.

For the Titans:

Marcus Mariota hasn’t beaten Andrew Luck in a football game. Ever. I even went back and looked at college results. Think of this game as a litmus test for the Titans and the end of all the Mariota vs. Luck comparisons. Frankly, the latter isn’t much of a conversation at this point.

The Titans did beat the Patriots without Gronk this year. They also beat the clearly struggling Eagles at home. Much like the Jaguars found out, though, expending that much energy to beat the Patriots can have long-term negative effects. I’ve never wished a hangover on someone before, but I mean...

The Titans’ losses include the middling Dolphins, the torrid Bills and they got skunked by the Ravens just over a month ago amid a 3-game skid.

Marcus Mariota has had a very up-and-down year and currently has only thrown 7 touchdowns to 5 interceptions on the season. He’s also missed a game due to injury. Andrew Luck’s numbers look incredible in every category and he’s top 10 in the league in many relevant statistical categories after returning from taking an entire year off of football. Mariota’s numbers look make him look like an athletic game manager, words hardly used to describe an elite quarterback.

It’s also worth pointing out that Luck has only been sacked 10 times this year and Mariota has been sacked 25 times — again he missed a game. It turns out that when you invest resources into protecting your quarterback and game plan to keep him clean all game, you score more points and win more games. Who’d have thunk it?

However...

The Titans are on a 2-game win streak and their defense has played sporadically outstanding over the course of the year, having only given up 24 points in the last two games. The Titans offense has only scored more than 20 points in three games this entire season. Cowboys. Pats. Eagles.

It’s hard to gauge if this conversation should be aimed strictly at the Colts offense vs. the Titans defense because it may be the only relevant match-up in the game on Sunday.

All that said, the Titans (5-4) may be without two WRs on Sunday and I expect we’ll see a heavy dose of the run game and some mobility on display by Mariota. He is an exceptional athlete and does aid his offense with his legs.

For the Colts:

Andrew Luck is 9-0 against the Titans for his career and for the first time in Marcus Mariota’s career there’s some consideration to the idea that this may be the only time the two teams are close enough in record and talent for it to be a relevant game for both franchises.

It’s worth considering that the Colts are in the first year of a 3-year rebuild and Vegas expects them to win at home in a close game.

The Colts appear to be coming into their own, having won 3 games in a row for the first time since 2016 and appear to be the healthiest they’ve been all year.

Given that this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Colts, even if the Titans win, they’re still 1-9 against Luck. Beating the Colts this year is like roping a calf. You may get ‘er done while we’re young, but things are different already in Indianapolis under Chris Ballard and Frank Reich. Mariota beating Luck at this point is akin to Manning finally beating Brady except this isn’t the Playoffs — and Mariota might get invited to the Hall of Fame as a guest one day.

All things considered, this game is significant to me because Reggie Wayne gets his much deserved blue jacket on Sunday and becomes part of the Colts Ring of Honor.

I’m here for that.

I, along with several Stampede Blue staff members, will be at the game on Sunday. I can promise you one thing regardless of the outcome.

This isn’t a rivalry game.

Questions?