Colts: Offense has to have game of the season with 3 defensive starters out vs Titans

DeForest Buckner #99 of the Indianapolis Colts jogs off the field before a game.(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
DeForest Buckner #99 of the Indianapolis Colts jogs off the field before a game.(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Colts’ offense has to be lights out vs Tennessee after three starters on defense were ruled out.

The Indianapolis Colts’ luck on the injury front has changed for the better over the last few months after an impossibly bad start to the season. In truly unfortunate fashion, however, the poor luck has returned with a bang ahead of an absolutely colossal matchup against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Among their laundry list of designations, the Colts announced that three defensive starters — interior lineman DeForest Buckner (COVID-19), edge rusher Denico Autry (COVID-19) and linebacker Bobby Okereke (ankle) — have all been ruled out for the game.

Indianapolis obviously has the depth to put together a solid performance against the Titans’ largely one-dimensional offense, but it would be foolish for fans to expect them to shut ’em down like they did in their previous meeting back in Week 10.

With these absences in mind, the Colts’ offense needs to be as ruthless as they’ve been all season, meaning they have to convert on every opportunity that is presented to them in terms of putting points on the scoreboard.

Indianapolis limited Tennessee to just 17 points two weeks ago, but you have to think they break the 20-point threshold with ease this time around, especially considering that Green Bay, a team with fewer playmakers, just hung 31 on them with their defense basically at full strength.

Tennessee’s defense is nothing to write home, about as it ranks in the bottom half of nearly every major statistical category, so there’s really no excuse for the Colts’ offense, which has been absolutely humming of late, not to keep the momentum going.

We know that center Ryan Kelly (neck) and running back Jonathan Taylor (COVID-19) won’t be available, but their absences don’t come close to having the same impact as the aforementioned defensive trio. Just look at the production Indianapolis’ defense will be without vs the Titans.

  • Buckner: 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 16 QB hits (team lead)
  • Autry: 24 tackles, six sacks (team lead), seven QB hits
  • Okereke: 54 tackles, four passes defended, one interception

Make no mistake about it, folks: it will be up to Philip Rivers and the offense to make up for that production. If they aren’t up to the challenge, well, it might be a long day at the office for the Colts, who will be playing in front of some 12,500 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.