Colts at Titans: Intel Report


The Indianapolis Colts close out the regular season this Sunday. They face the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, a team hoping to fail their way into the top spot in the draft.

The Colts (10-5) have little left to play for with a playoff spot already locked up. We’ve heard that they won’t be resting starters, but they said the same thing before the debacle in Dallas, so that’s essentially meaningless. The Titans, on the other hand, are basically playing to lose as they hope to secure the number one spot in the draft.

These two teams last met in late September where the Colts throttled the Titans 41-17. Andrew Luck threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns. It was also Reggie Wayne‘s best game of the season as he hauled in seven pass for 119 yards and a touchdown.

This is a good tune up game for the Colts as they get ready to host a game in the playoffs.

Editor’s note: DVOA and DYAR stats provided by Football Outsiders. DYAR is a player with more total value while DVOA is value per play. Plus/minus grades via Pro Football Focus. 

The Titans on Offense

The Titans are a mess on offense. They’ve had three different players featured at quarterback, and none of the have been particularly good. They’re averaging 224 passing yards per game, which puts them at 20th in the league. DVOA has the Titans with the 27th ranked passing offense in the league.

Charlie Whitehurst will be getting the start on Sunday, but he hasn’t had anything resembling a good season. He rates 22nd in DVOA but is surprisingly high on PFF QB ratings where he’s 16th overall. Despite this, its clear that the Titans will be in the market for a new QB in the offseason. In fact, the quarterback situation is so bad that there are now rumors about the Titans trading for Jay Cutler.

The passing is bad in Tennessee, but the rushing is even worse. The Titans are averaging just 87 yards on the ground per game, which is 28th in the NFL. DVOA is a little higher on their run game, having the Titans at 21st in the league. Their offensive line is rated 19th in terms of run blocking as well.

Bishop Sankey starts at running back, but he’s 22nd in DVOA and PFF has him with an average grade and rate him 23rd among running backs. One of his two touchdowns this season came against the Colts, but he only had 57 total yards in that game.

At receiver, the team’s best option has been tight end Delanie Walker. He had five receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown in the two team’s last meeting. DYAR has him ranked 15th among tight ends (just behind Coby Fleener). He’s easily their biggest receiving threat, and best target in the red zone.

Kendall Wright might be the team’s best actual wide receiver, but none of the players in this group have played particularly well this season. Wright is just behind Walker in yards and receptions, but DVOA puts Nate Washington has the top receiver on the team as he’s 27th in the NFL in value per play.

What it Means for the Colts on Defense

The Colts will need to show a pulse after last weeks pathetic effort. They shut this team down once before, and now the Titans won’t even want to win with a higher draft pick in play.

This will be a good game to attempt to reestablish the pass rush (or something along those lines). The Colts had three sacks last time and the Titans are 25th in the league in protection.

The Colts should be thinking shutout as the Titans haven’t score more than 13 points in the past three weeks (facing juggernauts like the Jags, Jets, and Giants).

The Titans on Defense

The Titans are a surprising 11th in terms of passing yards allowed. That is until you see that they’re 31st in rush defense. Team’s simply don’t pass that much against Tennessee as opponents are averaging 142 yards per game on the ground.

DVOA has Tennessee ranked 29th overall, with the 25th rated passing defense and 30th against the run.

The Titans are decent at covering number one receiver but are at the bottom of the league against number twos. Much of that had to do with Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who was having an atrocious year, but he is not in IR. Coty Sensabaugh will start in his place, but he hasn’t played all that much better.

Their defensive line is a mess that struggles to stop any sort of run play and once those plays develop, the rest of the defenders struggle to tackle the ball carrier. They are fairly good at rushing the passer with Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey leading the way.

What it Means for the Colts on Offense

If the coaching staff wants to protect Luck by running the ball, this is the game to do it. The Colts had just 105 rushing yards last time, but Luck was torching the Titans secondary.

The Colts should be getting T.Y. Hilton back this week, but will likely be without Dwayne Allen. They could likely have success against the Titans without either one on the field though.

I expect the Colts to force the run game in an effort to limit Luck’s attempts and hits. Last week we saw Trent Richardson featured more on third down, which would be a good trend that the Colts should continue.

A lot of the offenses success will be dependent on the make of the offensive line, which has been shifted multiple times this season due to injuries and coaching errors.