Colts’ Run Defense vs. Derrick Henry
This is the matchup that will define the course of the game. The Colts have struggled against Derrick Henry in the past, but the run defense has been amazing this season, and is fresh off a dominant outing against Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Grover Stewart has taken a massive step forward, while linebackers Bobby Okereke and E.J. Speed have been impeccable blowing up holes and taking down ball carriers. The Colts are also expecting All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard back after missing the first 3 games of the season. The Titans’ offense has not been good this year, and it starts with Henry, who is averaging just 3.6 YPC, and is averaging just 2.3 first downs per game, after averaging around 7 over the past 3 seasons. If the Colts manage to keep Henry in check, and make quarterback Ryan Tannehill beat them, the defense should be fine.
Danny Pinter vs. Jeffery Simmons
Its no secret that Danny Pinter has been terrible at right guard, and it is safe to say that he is the weak link that has been causing so many troubles in pass protection. A week after facing Chris Jones, Pinter will probably be facing Jeffery Simmons every single snap, as the Titans would be wise to take advantage of such a one-sided matchup. Simmons ranks 2nd in the NFL in total pressures among IDL (13), so the Colts will have to use a double team on that side every single snap. The communication has to be better to avoid free rushes down the A-gap, a common theme this season.
Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Roger McCreary/Kristian Fulton
MPJ has emerged as a focal point of this offense, pacing the team with an average of 11 targets per game. The Titans’ cornerbacks have not been great this season,they did manage to shut down Davante Adams (5 receptions on 10 targets for 36 yards and a score) but they allowed Stefon Diggs to go off (12 receptions on 15 targets for 148 yards and 3 scores). Of course, the Ryan-MPJ connection is not nearly on the same level as the Allen-Diggs, but Pittman could go off for a big game here.
Kenny Moore II vs. Robert Woods
While he played a bit better against the Chiefs, Kenny Moore II has been bad this year. The Titans like using receiver Robert Woods from the slot, and he has been their most reliable weapon on the passing game this season. The game flow goes something like this: if the Colts manage to contain Henry and force the Titans to beat them through the air, most of the targets will probably go to Robert Woods, so Moore II will have to post a solid game to stop him.
Colts’ Special Teams vs. Titans’ Special Teams
Special teams has been massive for the Colts this season. The punting unit has been amazing, led by Matt Haack, and the kicking and kickoffs have looked better with new leg Chase McLoughlin. The Titans punting has also been amazing, and Titans’ kicker Randy Bullock has been perfect this season other than the missed game winner against the Giants. Something to keep an eye on, Titans’ punt returner Kyle Philips has 2 muffed punts so far this season...
Yannick Ngakoue/Kwity Paye vs. Dennis Daley/Nicholas Petit-Frere
The Titans’ starting tackles for Sunday have been bad at protecting the quarterback this season, as the loss of starting left tackle Taylor Lewan hurts them a lot. Backup Dennis Daley allowed 7 pressures on 59 pass blocking snaps (11.8% pressure rate, Julien Davenport levels of bad), and rookie tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has also allowed 7 presures but on 99 snaps. Edge rushers Kwity Paye and Yannick Ngakoue are coming off their best game of the season, where they combined for 9 total pressures, and they have to be licking their chops with this matchup. Also keep an eye on Buckner vs. Brewer on the interior, as the Titans’ left guard has been struggling (8 pressures allowed on 99 snaps) this season.