There isn't going to be a lot here that you don't already know. The key to beating Peyton Manning is pretty simple....on paper. You have to get after him with the front four, no bite on the play-action fakes and knock him around a little bit. The Titans should be able to accomplish these three things considering how bad the Colts offensive line is, and the fact that they are 32nd in the league in rushing yards per game. There is absolutely no reason for anyone in the Titans secondary to bite on a play fake tonight, and honestly I would be OK with linebackers guessing pass first as well. The Tennessee front four should be able to take care of the Indy rushing attack without much help.
Speaking of the linebackers and pass coverage, we all know that has been the weakness of this team for some time now. They better fix somethings tonight because if not Peyton is going to make Jacob Tamme look like Frank Wycheck circa 1999. There is no doubt that Peyton has watched the Titans get torched down the middle by everyone on film, and that will be the first place he looks in this game. It is time for Stephen Tulloch and company to step up and make some plays.
On offense they need to get Chris Johnson going early. The Colts have given up 142.8 yards per game on the ground. They are weak on the interior of the defensive line. The bad news is the Titans interior offensive line has been weak as well, but if they were ever going to get going tonight would be the night. CJ wants the ball more. That is understandable, but if the line doesn't block any better than they have to this point it really isn't going to matter. This offense needs to get back to the balanced attack that can make them success, but that requires some running lanes.
The Colts D has been good against the pass, but they are now down to corners number 3 and 4. The Titans should be able to take advantage of that with the return of Kenny Britt. I have heard a lot of talk the last couple of days about how they are going to have trouble getting Britt and Randy Moss on the field at the same time because they play the same position. Surely Mike Heimerdinger is creative enough to figure something out to take advantage of two big receivers with the speed to take the ball deep, and well you know the rest (and don't call me Shirley).Match-ups
Titans run offense vs. Colts run defense
Advantage: Titans- Again, the Colts give up over 140 yards a game on the ground. The Titans have to be able to take advantage of that if they are going to win this game. Plain and simple
Titans pass offense vs. Colts pass defense
Advantage: Titans- I know Collins has looked rough lately, but that Colts defense is playing without 3/4 of their starting unit in the secondary. There are going to be some chances to hit some big throws down the field. This is probably crazy, but something in my gut tells me Moss has a big game tonight.
Colts run offense vs. Titans run defense
Advantage: Titans- The Colts simply cannot run the ball.
Colts pass offense vs. Titans pass defense
Advantage: Colts- Peyton Manning vs. our linebackers is a really, really scary thought. Funny that I see the Titans having the edge in three of these four, but this one they don't could be the one that they simply cannot overcome to get the win.
Advantage: Titans- The kickers are close in this one, but of course Rob Bironas has the edge. Marc Mariani also provides a big advantage over the Colts returners that are 30th and 24th in kick and punt return average respectively. Mariani is 7th in kick and 2nd in punt.
Advantage: Push- Jeff Fisher has the clear edge here if his team wasn't coming off two of the biggest mail in jobs in NFL history, but they are so I can't give him the edge even against the statue of Jim Caldwell.
I said on last night's MCM Radio that I fight this battle within myself of knowing that this Titans team is done and looking at this match-up as favorable for the Titans. While I can't rationally come up with a reason for why this game will be different that the last two, there is still something inside of me that believes it will be. Here's to hoping..