INDIANAPOLIS — With a tough Week 1 overtime loss in the rearview mirror, the Indianapolis Colts turn their attention to their first division matchup of the season when they head to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.
The Titans were big winners last week in a lopsided, 30-point win over a very much hyped Cleveland Browns team that was not expected to take such a loss. However, there's just something about this Colts-Titans series.
The Colts have won 13 of the last 15 matchups against the Titans including 11 straight between 2011-2016. The Titans bounced back to sweep the Colts in 2017 before the Colts returned the favor in 2018, including a Week 17 matchup in which the winner advanced to the playoffs and the loser went home.
Here is what's in store for this week.
The Titans had one of the more dominating performances of Week 1, toppling the Browns, 43-13, on the road. On paper, that looks like they were all over them from start to finish — likely in all three phases — but there are some key ingredients that tell the story.
While Tennessee's offense played relatively well, its defense was even stronger. For starters, 15 of those 43 points came from fields goals or the defense directly, as the Titans registered a safety and an interception returned for a touchdown. The Titans' defense also held the Browns to a combined 1-of-12 on third and fourth downs.
The Titans' defense harassed Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield all day, sacking him five times and intercepting him three times in the fourth quarter. The second-year signal-caller went 25-of-38 passing (65.8 percent) for 285 yards, one touchdown and the three picks.
Cleveland's crown jewel addition of the offseason, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry combined for 11 receptions for 138 yards, while tight end David Njoku caught four passes for 37 yards and Mayfield's lone touchdown.
Running back Nick Chubb shouldered the load in the run game, toting the rock 17 times for 75 yards. As a team, the Browns ran the ball 20 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was 14-of-24 passing (58.3 percent) for 248 yards and three touchdowns, but he was also sacked four times. In two games against the Colts in 2018, the Colts sacked Titans quarterbacks five times and intercepted them four times.
Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown led Tennessee in receiving in his debut with three receptions for 100 yards, and tight end Delanie Walker caught five passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns after missing basically all of 2018 with an ankle injury. Top receiver Corey Davis was targeted three times but was blanked statistically in this matchup.
Running back Derrick Henry picked up where he left off after an awesome finish to 2018, running the ball 19 times for 84 yards and a touchdown as well as catching one pass that he took 75 yards for another score.
Not much has changed about this current Titans team from what the Colts saw twice last year, save for a couple key additions in guys like Brown and edge defender Cameron Wake, who the Colts faced when he was a member of the Miami Dolphins last year.
Titans' Passing Game
The Colts saw Mariota in bits of both games last year, as he was knocked out of both due to injury and was replaced by Blaine Gabbert. If it were to happen again, the Titans have a new backup in Ryan Tannehill, who, again, the Colts faced when he was a Dolphin in 2018. Mariota leads a passing game that can be dangerous, especially factoring in Brown and fellow newcomer Adam Humphries. Davis is a tough cover for any cornerback, but it could be considered troubling how little he contributed in Week 1 despite leading Tennessee's receivers in snaps. Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II should be big in defending Tennessee's methodical, ball-control offense as he covers the boundary and slot.
Titans' Run Game
The Titans butter their bread as a smashmouth, run-first offense. Henry closed out 2018 by averaging 151.5 yards of offense per game and scoring seven touchdowns over the last four games, and 106 of those yards came against the Colts in Week 17. Dion Lewis is also a key contributor, as is Mariota as a scrambler. The two combined to average 84.3 non-passing yards per game in 2018. The Colts struggled defending the Los Angeles Chargers' run and screen games last week, allowing 125 yards on the ground and 100 receiving yards to running backs. It's an area in which Henry excels, so they'll have to re-focus on their fundamentals to make sure they set the tone.
Colts' Passing Game
The Jacoby Brissett Era got off to a nice start in Week 1, as the Colts' new starting quarterback completed 77.8 percent of his passes, threw two touchdowns, had a 120.7 passer rating and had zero turnovers. They will be without receiver Devin Funchess after he had an operation on his clavicle, but guys like Deon Cain, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers could have an increased role in his absence. Let's also not forget that T.Y. Hilton — who had 87 receiving yards and two touchdowns last week — put up a total of 216 yards and two touchdowns on 15 receptions against Tennessee last year. Still, it's a dangerous pass defense that the Titans possess as evidenced by what they were able to do against Mayfield last week.
Colts' Run Game
The Colts' had their fifth 200-yard rushing game since 2018 last week against the Chargers, led by Marlon Mack's career-high 174 yards. The offensive line looks just as nasty and effective as it was in 2018, and it could capitalize against a Titans defense that allowed the Browns to average 5.1 yards per carry last week. In the two matchups last year, the Colts ran for 260 yards including Mack's 180 and two touchdowns.
TITANS' 2018 KEY STATS
- Tied-1st in turnover differential (+3)
- 2nd in scoring (43.0 PPG)
- 6th in passer rating (133.3)
- Tied-22nd in sacks allowed (4)
- Tied-28th in third-down conversions (20%)
- 1st in third-down conversions (10%)
- Tied-1st in interceptions (3)
- Tied-2nd in sacks (5)
- 4th in opponent passer rating (64.0)