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Colts’ rivalry problem: Tennessee Titans

The Titans might seem like the most obvious potential rival of the Colts. Are they really though?

NFL: OCT 23 Colts at Titans Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

More times than not, it seems like the Tennessee Titans are the team that stands in the way of the Indianapolis Colts winning the division. Because of that, fans may believe the Titans to be a true rival of the Colts. Is that really the case when breaking everything down? Let’s find out.

The teams meet often:

As a divisional opponent, the Colts square off against the Titans twice a year. The two teams have met in the playoffs previously, but not in the last decade.

The Colts meet the Titans at home on October 8th and travel to Nashville on December 3rd for a rematch.

The series must be balanced:

The series reads 14-8 in the Colts favor during the regular season. That isn’t quite as severe as the doubling up of the Texans, but it is close. Not only is the series not particularly balanced, the win loss record also doesn’t truly reflect how lopsided the series has been.

Under Andrew Luck, the Colts went on an incredibly impressive streak winning ten games in a row. It is a remarkable feat to be able to beat a team that many consecutive times.

After trading wins over the next few matchups, the Titans have now compiled their own stretch winning five in a row and six out of the last seven.

Due to the overall series record and the fact that each team struggles to beat the other for extended stretches, this series has the worst balance of the Colts’ divisional foes.

The games need to have high stakes:

The Titans have been all over the map regarding their standing in the AFC South. Over the last eleven seasons, they have found themselves with a smattering of fourth through first place finishes. Eight of those seasons, however, found them in first or second place.

December 9th, 2012, the Colts made a surprise playoff push with their rookie QB. They ended up beating the Titans to improve to 9-4 and secure a place in the Wild Card round.

December 30th, 2018, with the final playoff spot on the line, the game was flexed to Sunday Night Football in Nashville. The Colts started out hot, only to watch the Titans claw back into the game in the third quarter. The Colts pulled it out by shutting down the Titans in the fourth.

November 29th, 2020, both teams entered this contest at 7-4, and the game held major playoff implications. The Titans crushed the Colts as Rivers couldn’t keep it close, falling behind 35-14 by halftime. This forced the Colts to travel to Buffalo for their first playoff game instead of being at home for the Wild Card round.

October 31st, 2021, saw the birth of the infamous pick-six by Carson Wentz at his own goal line as he was being tackled by all eleven Titans. The Colts were working to dig out of an early season hole, and this game proved costly as the Colts would lose their final two games and miss the playoffs.

Verdict:

The balance of this series is incredibly off. One team goes on a run which makes it impossible for the losing team to see a way out. With that said, when these teams do meet, they have had some important clashes. While the Texans and Jaguars have had their moments in the division, it has been too far and few in between. The Titans are generally in the mix for the division more times than not. The Titans and Colts have been good enough for long enough to create more than a few high stakes games. Because of that, the Titans qualify as a true rival of the Colts.