INDIANAPOLIS – More than a month has passed since the Titans and Colts previously met in Nashville. Indianapolis escaped with a 19-13 overtime victory on October 28.
While the familiarly between the teams will be a factor this week, the Titans will start a quarterback who was not on the field in the teams’ first meeting.
Jake Locker has started the last three games for the Titans after returning from a shoulder injury he suffered on September 30 against the Texans.
As a dual-threat quarterback, Locker has averaged 285 passing yards and 29.5 rushing yards in his last two starts.
After defending one of the league’s top receivers on Sunday, the Colts defense now will turn its attention to trying to limit the big-play ability Titans running back Chris Johnson.
Johnson is fourth in the AFC with 993 yards rushing and is averaging just less than 100 yards per game since facing the Colts. He gained 99 yards on 21 rushes in the first meeting.
The Titans use a number of different receivers and tight end Jared Cook is one of the top receivers in the AFC. Cook ranks second on the team with 41 receptions and three have produced touchdowns.
Rookie wide receiver Kendall Wright leads the receiving corps with 54 catches for 516 yards and four touchdowns. Nate Washington is the big-play threat with 38 receptions for 633 yards.
Defensively, the outside pass rush of Kamerion Wimbley and Akeem Ayers has combined for nine sacks on the season.
The first meeting between the Colts and Titans came with the teams having 3-3 and 3-4 records respectively, and they were grouped in a very crowded AFC playoff picture.
Things have separated in the AFC since that October meeting, and the Colts can thank an 80-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter for helping stimulate their current positioning.
Indianapolis drove 80 yards in 14 plays, and running back
The heroics of overtime ended when running back
2012 Record: 4-8, Third in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Mike Munchak, 2nd season as Titans head coach (13-15 overall regular season).
2012 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 23rd (329.9); Rushing, 19th (105.4); Passing, 19th (224.5) Defense – Overall, 27th (386.9); Rushing, 27th (129.4); Passing, 26th (257.5).
2012 Leading Passers: Jake Locker (120-212 comp., 1,473 yards, 56.6 pct., 8 TDs, 7 INTs, 77.0 rating).
2012 Leading Rusher: Chris Johnson (204 carries, 993 yards, 4 TDs).
2012 Leading Receiver: Kendall Wright (54 receptions, 516 yards, 4 TD).
2012 Leading Sacker: Kamerion Wimbley (5.0).
2012 Turnover Breakdown: -10 (tied for 26th).
2012 NFL Draft Results: The Titans drafted a playmaker at receiver for quarterback Jake Locker by selecting Kendall Wright with the 20th overall pick. Wright has shown spurts of his big-play ability and leads the team in receptions. In the second round, the Titans chose linebacker Zach Brown, and the North Carolina product has started nine of 12 outings and has 67 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Mike Martin, the Titans’ third-round pick, has played largely in a reserve role on the defensive line and has two sacks.
2011 Review: In Mike Munchak’s first season as an NFL head coach, the Titans went 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs. The Titans had moments of achievement in the first season under a new regime, finishing second in the AFC South. After starting his career with three straight Pro Bowl seasons, running back Chris Johnson added a fourth 1,000-yard season, performing to his lofty standards. He ran for 1,047 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games. Rookie quarterback Jake Locker saw extended action in three games. He played in five outings overall. Matt Hasselbeck was the Titans’ 16-game starter. He hit 319-of-518 attempts for 3,571 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Last time in Playoffs: 2008 season. Lost in the AFC Divisional Round, 13-10, to the Baltimore Ravens.
Last time in Super Bowl: 1999 season. Lost Super Bowl XXXIV, 23-16, to the St. Louis Rams.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2011 Pro Bowl Selections: None.