The Indianapolis Colts will be home as their AFC South rival, Tennessee Titans, play in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Last season, both teams finished 11-5 and made the playoffs. This year, Indianapolis finished 9-8 and missed the postseason while the Titans finished 12-5 and will take the field as the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the divisional round.
While there is a rivalry between the two teams and many Colts fans are probably hoping Tennessee loses to the Cincinnati Bengals, Indy could learn some things from its nemesis.
How the Colts can mirror the Titans success
If the two games between Indianapolis and Tennessee proved anything, it’s that both teams are close in levels but the Titans are just a little better.
Both teams have elite running backs, decent quarterbacks, and slightly above-average defenses. However, there are a couple of things that Tennessee has that Indy doesn’t and that’s the difference in the levels of success.
One of those things is a quality group of wide receivers. The Titans weren’t satisfied with just having one of the league’s best backs, they went and got weapons to put around him.
Tennessee successfully drafted a No. 1 receiver in AJ Brown and then went out to trade for future Hall of Famer, Julio Jones. At full strength, this makes Ryan Tannehill’s job easier and also stresses defenses, as they have to decide which elite player to focus on.
The Colts did draft Michael Pittman Jr., who just had a breakout season, but they must get another receiver to pair with Pittman. Adding another weapon on the outside can open this offense up completely.
Titans have made better personnel decisions than Colts
The other major difference is pass rush. Indianapolis has struggled to consistently get after the quarterback. This season, the Colts only recorded 33 sacks, the eighth-least in the league.
Tennessee on the other hand, had 43 sacks, the ninth-most in the NFL. The majority of the production came from home-grown talent. Players like Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons, who were drafted by the Titans, panned out.
But Tennessee has also been committed to making big acquisitions to help the pass rush. The player with the second-most sacks on Tennessee is Denico Autry, who played for Indianapolis the last three seasons.
The Titans signed Autry and Bud Dupree last offseason to quality deals because they knew they needed to improve their pass rush.
The Colts have made a commitment to pass rushers in the draft and some didn’t develop as desired. However, Indy must aggressively pursue veteran pass rushers that are ready to contribute, much like the DeForest Buckner trade.
If the Colts can effectively address these two issues as Tennessee did, this rivalry would be even more competitive and Indy could win the conference over the next few seasons.