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Nine quick thoughts before Titans-Colts

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The Titans have a massive opportunity to take control of the AFC South today.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans have a big opportunity in front of them today. No, a loss wouldn’t destroy everything they showed they could be in Week 1, but it would be further proof of a team that hasn’t learned to handle success. The Colts are a good football team, even without former Titans tormentor Andrew Luck, and Tennessee will need to bring the same level of focus and effort to this game that they did in Cleveland if they want to leave 2-0.

2-0 would be a big deal too. The Titans haven’t started 2-0 since 2008, the last time the team won the AFC South. 2-0 teams are also significantly more likely to make the playoffs than teams that start 1-1 across the NFL.

With a one game lead on the entire AFC South coming out of Week 1, the Titans have an opportunity to go two games up on the Colts and at least one other division rival today (Jacksonville and Houston play each other). With the top two tiebreakers for the division crown being head to head record and then AFC South record, winning these division matchups, especially at home, is absolutely critical.

Speaking of home field advantage, the Titans have had a great one over the past couple years. They rank 6th in the NFL in home wins since the beginning of the 2017 season and have won 16 of their last 20 games in Nissan Stadium. It just hasn’t translated against the Colts though. The loss before that 16-4 stretch began was at home to Indy and of course the most recent home game was that devastating Blaine Gabbert Week 17 loss last season so in their last 21 home games, the Titans are 1-2 against the Colts and 16-3 against the rest of the NFL. They must find a way to reverse that trend today if they’re going to take the next step.

With that, here are some more quick thoughts heading into Titans-Colts:

  1. The Colts will be without edge rushers Jabaal Sheard and Kemoko Turay in this game. Sheard missed last week, but Turay was excellent against the Chargers. Indy still has Justin Houston, but they’re thin at edge behind him today. That should help the Titans offensive line coming off a week when they had to deal with Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon.
  2. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus loves to sit his team in a Cover 2 shell for most of the game and take away chunk plays. The Titans must take advantage of opportunities in the run game if Indianapolis sits in a two high safety look on early downs. I feel like this has a chance to be a big game for Derrick Henry.
  3. The Colts offense will be without starting receiver Devin Funchess who was injured in Week 1. He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by second year pass catcher Deon Cain. While Funchess brought a big, physical presence to the Colts receiving corps, Cain brings more speed and big play ability. Between T.Y. Hilton, Cain, and rookie Parris Campbell, there are lots of explosive plays waiting to happen on this Indy offense. The Titans excellent secondary must find a way to limit those.
  4. The Titans edge rushers were very productive and impressive last week in Cleveland. Cameron Wake had 2.5 sacks, Sharif Finch had a sack, and Harold Landry had a sack taken away by a defensive holding penalty and drew two holds himself. However, Colts tackles Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith will represent a much bigger challenge for that group this week. We will find out quickly how much of Week 1’s performance was bad Browns offensive line play and how much was great Titans pass rushing.
  5. Speaking of the pass rush... one thing we know for certain about Landry and Wake is that they have two of the best get offs in the NFL. A loud home crowd making noise on big passing downs will help them as much or more than any pass rushers in the NFL. If Titans fans can help the Colts tackles be just a tick slow getting out of their stance, that could be the difference in a game changing play. BE LOUD Titans fans.
  6. I’m fascinated to see how the Titans go to attack the Colts defense today. Last week they went with a ton of heavy personnel and threw play action off of those looks with extreme success. Will they go back to that well or will they zig after putting that on tape last week? The Titans offensive personnel gives Arthur Smith a deep well of options to attack a defense with.
  7. On the defensive side of the ball, I suspect we will see a different game plan from Dean Pees than the one we saw in Week 1 as well. The Colts like to use heavy personnel and I’d be surprised if the Titans stuck in nickel/big dime packages all game. After seeing Marlon Mack and the Colts offensive line gash the Chargers last week, the Titans defensive front must be ready for a downhill rushing attack. This is going to be a big game for guys like Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones, and Rashaan Evans in the middle of that defense.
  8. The schedule makers did the Titans a solid in this game. Teams that start the season with two consecutive road games are just 5-22 in the second game in recent years. The Colts opened the season in LA last week.
  9. I can’t wait to see Steve McNair and Eddie George honored at halftime. Those two are a big part of the reason my love for this team runs so deep. If there was ever a game for Titans fans to be fired up for, its this one.