NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — First place is on the line Thursday night in Nashville when the Tennessee Titans (6-2) host the Indianapolis Colts (5-3) in primetime.
After taking on the Chicago Bears Sunday, it is back-to-back tough defenses for a Titans offense still learning to deal with life after Taylor Lewan. Ty Sambrailo has filled in admirably for Lewan, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. But the team has not been the same, scoring only 20 points in Cincinnati and 24 points against the Bears after starting the season averaging over 30 points per game.
The Colts will not be any easier to deal with. With the addition of Deforest Buckner, the Colts have the stingiest unit in the league, giving up just 290 total yards per game. They are also third in scoring defense with 20 points per game.
Indianapolis is only giving up 83 yards rushing per game, but the Titans will still lean heavily on running back Derrick Henry, who leads the NFL with 843 yards this season and eight touchdowns. Last week, the Ravens rushed for 110 yards at Indianapolis but 58 of those yards came from quarterback Lamar Jackson and the team averaged only 2.9 yards per carry.
It is going to be tough sledding for Henry much of the day, but he must run to set up play action for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Coming off of a short week, there is a better opportunity for him to wear down the Colts defense for a big second half, which is something he has done to Indianapolis in the past.
Derrick Henry last four games vs. Colts
- Dec. 6, 2019 – 26 carries, 149 yards, TD
- Sept. 15, 2019 – 15 carries, 82 yards, TD
- Dec. 30, 2018 – 16 carries, 93 yards
- Nov. 18, 2018 – 9 carries, 46 yards
Henry can expect to see a lot of middle linebacker Darius Leonard, who leads the Colts with 51 tackles despite only playing in six games this season.
Defensively, the Titans are looking to build on a much stronger performance against the Chicago Bears. The leagues worst 3rd down defense held the Bears to two of 15 on third down.
Tennessee will still be without cornerback Adoree Jackson, despite his addition to the 53 man roster Wednesday afternoon. Jadeveon Clowney should be good to go though. Clowney missed the Bears game with a knee injury, but was able to practice fully Wednesday and Thursday for the Titans. The Titans will need all of the help they can get to sack Phillip Rivers, who has only been sacked seven times all season.
Rivers will turn it over though, having thrown seven interceptions already this season.
Linebacker Jayon Brown has to have a big game in pass coverage for the Titans, because Rivers really likes to use his tight ends like Moe Alle Cox, who has 17 receptions, and running backs like Nyheim Hines, who leads the team with 28 receptions.
In a game that should be one of the lower scoring ones of the season, turnovers could certainly be the difference for the Titans and the team leads the league at plus-10 for the season.