Miracles do happen! Last Sunday the Indianapolis Colts played host to the Kansas City Chiefs and came away with a massive upset victory. They did so mostly on the back of the Gus Bradley-led defense as the Colts' offense struggled for the third week in a row. Now with a divisional matchup of Titanic proportions on the horizon, there are all sorts of questions that might be answered this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. Let’s jump in and take a look at what we should be watching for this weekend.
- How will Shaquille Leonard look in his first game of the season?
For the second week in a row, a Shaq Leonard question gets top billing in this article. Last week I incorrectly believed that Shaq would be targeting a tough Chiefs opponent to make his return. Instead, he missed his third game of the season and fans are all wondering when will we see The Maniac on the field. But I’m not asking when, I’m asking how he’s going to look.
This is it, this will be the week. I’m calling my shot. Last week I was guessing. This week, call it a hunch, I feel it in my bones, we’re going to see The Maniac go head to head with Derrick Henry and I can’t wait to see 53 flying around punching at footballs again but will the multiple-time all-pro show any signs of rust?
- Does Derrick Henry Still Have It?
Derrick Henry has been a special running back in the NFL for a few years. He’s now 28 and coming off of a season derailed by injuries. Historically most running backs start to decline at age 28 but many people believe Derrick Henry might be different.
They might have a point, Henry is 6’3” and nearly 250 pounds. It’s not that we’ve never seen a back that big, it’s that we really haven’t seen a back that big, as fast as Derrick Henry. Big backs don’t have multiple 90+ yard rushing touchdowns but Derrick Henry does. He’s a home run hitter. That’s who he is and it’s possible that because we’ve never seen a home run hitter this big, he continues to be productive for much longer than average.
So far this season Henry has rushed 54 times for 192 yards, good for a 3.6 yard per carry average. Last season, even before the injury he was averaging 4.3 yards per carry, his lowest since 2017. So while it’s possible we’re just seeing a slight blip in his productivity, it will be interesting to put eyes on the talented back to see for ourselves if he still has it.
- Can the Colts Offense Get on Track?
You don’t have to chart every offensive snap the Colts have run this season to realize the Colts offense is dead last in scoring and 22nd in yards gained this season. There are a lot of reasons for those putrid numbers and this isn’t the article to try and explain them or assign blame, so I won’t.
What we will all be watching for is can the Colts offense turn it around and get things going in the right direction or is this just who they are in 2022? History and critical thinking skills lead me to believe that we will see an improved offense sooner or later. The problem might be that it comes too late, so we will all be hoping week four is when Matt Ryan and his offensive line get on the same page and score some points.
- Are the Titans still a contender?
Titans fans still believe the 1-2 Titans are legitimate contenders. The belief is that after finishing as the first seed in the AFC in 2021, that head coach Mike Vrabel is good enough to get his team to the playoffs by just outcoaching everyone else.
Through three games his defense has been really bad, allowing the third most points in the league while his offense doesn’t seem to be recovering very well from trading away superstar wide receiver AJ Brown in the prime of his career.
Having said all of that, it’s not like the Colts have been very good either. It’s possible both teams are fighting to catch up with the Jacksonville Jaguars in December but this game has the potential to tell us if the Titans are contenders, if their two-year run as AFC South champions will continue, or if they’re ready to take another 11-year hiatus from winning that crown.
- Which Colts Defense Will Show Up
The defense we saw the Colts trot out in week three was not the same defense we watched for the first two weeks of the season. Gus Bradley had a fantastic plan for confusing Patrick Mahomes and I have a suspicion if it confused Mahomes, there’s a chance it could confuse Ryan Tannehill.
We all hope Bradley continues to use what many believe to be a talented defensive roster to the best of their abilities. But it’s always possible Bradley reverts back to calling games the way we saw him in both Jacksonville and against the Houston Texans. Hopefully, I am underestimating Bradley and he’s not underestimating the Titans.
Week three provided Colts fans with just enough hope to get them through the week to Sunday. By one o’clock this Sunday that hope will be teetering on a steep ledge. If the Colts pull this one out and start their first winning streak of 2022, hope will be through the roof.
If they can’t beat this version of the Titans, it feels like we’ll be right back to where we were last week at this time. Just remember, no matter what happens, the sky isn’t falling. Probably. Unless it is. But if that happens there will be plenty of time to deal with it then, let’s just enjoy week four.