Week 10 Thursday Night Football
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
This might be the most exciting Thursday night matchup we have had this season. I would throw the runner up to the Bills and Chiefs, but this one has divisional implications. We have had some other divisional matchups on Thursday nights, but the NFC East does not count towards “exciting”. Ryan TANNYHILL vs. Phillip Rivers. Derrick Henry vs. The Colts D-Line. Titans weak pass rush vs. Colts Dominate O-Line. There are a lot of different matchups to watch which is what makes a game exciting.
The stat that might not excite people, or at least Titans fans, is the Colts lead the head to head record 34-17, which includes 3 of the last 5. Also, the Colts won 11 straight between 2011 and 2016. The Titans won the last meeting on December 1, 2019 with a final score of 31-17. If we remind ourselves of the Colts the past few seasons, the offense has been a major weakness for the Colts, while the Titans have been thriving with Henry and TANNYHILL.
Then, we entered 2020 with Phillip Rivers behind center for the Colts and the Titans coming fresh of a run to the AFC Title game. The Colts offense is still struggling and the Titans continue to run an offense from the 1960’s. The result is a one game separation from first place in the division. The Colts have been banking on their top 5 defense and the Titans, per usual, rely on Derrick Henry to be a God among men. However, I think this game comes down to each team’s weakness, not their strengths.
Keys To Victory:
Phillip Rivers was brought in because they thought he could sit in the pocket behind the league’s best offensive line and deliver the ball accurately. Well, unfortunately for the Colts, accuracy has been an issue for Rivers. He is completing 67.9% of his passes for 10 TDs and 7 INTs. Accuracy and efficiency have not been there. Sure, you can blame some of it on the lack of explosiveness from the Colts weapons on offense. T.Y. Hilton is no longer the separator or down field threat he used to be and the next best options are rookies between WR Michael Pittman Jr. and RB Jonathan Taylor. Not exactly top tier material.
This is the week the Colts can try and get this offense on track though. The Titans pass rush is non-existent if you don’t count last week’s Bears game since the Bears offensive line is the worst in the league. Now, the Titans pass rush faces the best offensive line in the league. Rivers should have all day to throw the ball which also allows the WRs to find the open spaces in zone or run longer routes to get off of man coverage. I would like to see Jonathan Taylor help out the pass game by creating some form of a running game. Even without a consistent run game, I still think Rivers will have long enough in the pocket to pick apart the secondary. He is the key to the Colts victory. Time to dial back time and become that young gunslinger you used to be Phillip!
I could just counter that for the Titans key to victory and say send the blitz more often than not. Taylor has a rough time picking up blitzing CBs, but you expect that from rookie RBs. That’s the easy ask! I am going to challenge the Titans to get out of their comfort zone and ask Ryan TANNYHILL to push the ball down field more. I don’t think Derrick Henry will be a non-factor in the runnin game, but if he chose a week to struggle, it would be this one. He will be running into what is probably the best defensive line in football. But every d-line gets tired eventually. If the Titans can mix it up with Henry runs and deep play action early to gain a quick lead, then they can put the ball in Henry’s hands to end the game against a worn down defense.
This is where the Titans have struggled in their game plans the past few weeks. They ask Henry to run the ball early and often and TANNYHILL to only throw some intermediate throws. It’s time to take the top off and loosen up the 8-9 man boxes for Henry. AJ Brown and Corey Davis are viable down field threats and yes, the Titans do dial up some of those plays, but my point is, it’s not nearly enough. The Titans offense needs to be more explosive and that starts with Ryan TANNYHILL being a real QB and throwing the ball deep and fitting it into tight man coverage, which he will see a lot of against the Colts.
Who Will Win:
I am asking both QBs to be a better version of themselves than they have been the past few weeks. TANNYHILL has had better stat lines than Rivers, but they have still lost 2 of their last, with the win against the Bears a little too close for comfort. I think it will be tough for the Titans offense to find it’s groove again against this Colts defense. I do believe it will be easier for Phillip Rivers and the Colts offense to click things into place against the Titans weaker defense. Give me the Colts in a very close and epic divisional matchup!
Colts Win: 27-24