In Week 14's Thursday Night matchup, the 6-6 Indianapolis Colts will travel to Tennessee to take on Chris Johnson and the Titans. The game will be covered by the NFL Network and is set for an 8:20 EST start.
Believe it or not, the 5-7 Tennessee Titans still have shot at winning the AFC South division only trailing the first place Jacksonville Jaguars by two games. But for this to happen Tennessee must come away with a big home victory against Peyton Manning and the Colts. In order for the Titans to beat out the Colts, and continue to prosper in the future, they must begin to receive some production out of Kerry Collins and their running backs.
Plagued with constant injuries and poor performances by their quarterback's this season, the Titans have continued to struggle dropping their last five games. Veteran Kerry Collins returned from his injury last Sunday against the Jaguars and had a pathetic performance, only completing 14 of 32 passes for 169 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 34.5 QB Rating. If Collins played that poorly against the 27th overall ranked passing defense in the NFL, than it cannot turn out too positive for the Tennessee Titans offense when they go head-to-head with a very talented Colts defense. Indianapolis has one of the most effective pass defenses in the league, ranked fourth overall, only allowing 200.0 yards per game. Collins has been playing subpar so far this season, completing 76 of 139 passes for 807 yards, five touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 68.8 QB rating.
No matter what Kerry Collins does will matter in Week 14 if Peyton Manning can come into this game with some focus. In the last three games Manning has played quite poorly, throwing a total of eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Expect Manning to enter Thursday night's game with an incredible passion and tenacity, dominating Tennessee's weak defense. The four-time NFL MVP has won seven out-of the last ten times he has faced the Titans.
Nothing has really been going right for either team of late, but both Indianapolis and Tennessee's rushing attack have been extremely inconsistent this season.
In the last two games Chris Johnson has rushed for a total of 20 times for 58 yards and zero touchdowns. Johnson has never performed that poorly throughout his impressive three year career. If the Titan's want to have any chance in this game, than Johnson must rush for at least 100 yards and a touchdown.
The Colts on the other hand, have the worst rushing offense in the National Football League only averaging 79.1 yards per game. The reason for this is because Indianapolis rarely rushes the football, which is why Peyton Manning has been throwing so many picks recently. Teams are beginning to catch on and leaving extra linebackers in the middle to grab easy picks when Manning doesn't realize it. By running the ball more often, Indianapolis would open up Manning's throwing lanes.
The most successful group of players on Tennessee so far this season would be their receiving corps. The main targets in this offense have been Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, and Bo Scaife. Nate Washington has been targeted 73 times, making 33 receptions for 544 yards and five touchdowns. Tight-end Bo Scaife has caught 32 passes for 48 298 yards and two touchdowns. Lastly, Kenny Britt has been the most productive this year, bringing in 23 receptions for 434 yards and seven touchdowns.
Since Peyton Manning and the Colts pass the ball for the majority of their snaps, Indianapolis' receivers have recorded some outstanding numbers. The most effective have been Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. Reggie Wayne has made 90 receptions for 1107 yards and five touchdowns. Austin Collie has been very efficient, making 50 receptions out of 61 passes thrown his way for 562 yards and six touchdowns. Last but certainly not least, Pierre Garcon has made 46 receptions for 534 yards and two touchdowns.
Titans: 23rd Overall Passing Defense; giving up 238.7 YPG
22nd Overall Rushing Defense; giving up 123.4 YPG
Key Players: LB Stephen Tulloch- 88 solo tackles, 39 assisted tackles, and one interception
S Michael Griffin- 65 solo tackles, 20 assisted tackles, and four interceptions
Colts: 4th Overall Passing Defense, giving up 200.0 YPG
29th Overall Rushing Defense, giving up 142.8 YPG
Key Players: S Antoine Bethea- 61 solo tackles, 25 assisted tackles, and 0.5 sacks
DE Robert Mathis- 44 total tackles, 8.5 sacks and a forced fumble
DE Dwight Freeney- 21 total tackles, 8.0 sacks, and four forced fumbles
With only four games remaining this season, Thursday Night will be crucial for Indianapolis and Tennessee who are both desperately trying to win the AFC South and clinch the playoffs.
Prediction- Indianpolis Colts 41 - Tennessee Titans 20