Chris Johnson is the Titans' biggest running threat. Image courtesy of nfl.com/Mark Humphrey/AP
They’re not exactly struggling alongside the likes of Tampa Bay and Miami, but Tennessee and Indianapolis are at the crossroads of their respective seasons ahead of their Week 11 clash on Friday morning (AEST). The Colts come in to this match on the back of their worst home loss in two decades after their 38-8 defeat at the hands of the Rams, while Tennessee lost just about the unloseable at home to previously winless Jacksonville.
At least Indy came out of its loss with its quarterback still intact, despite the fact the rebuilt offensive line is still doing no better than last year’s rabble at protecting Andrew Luck. The Titans have lost the ever-improving Jake Locker for the season with a foot injury. Back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t spark Tennesse, despite throwing for 264 on 22 of 33 passing with two TDs while also running for one score. The bad news for the Titans is that the Jaguars loss is the third time they’ve gone down with Fitzpatrick playing substantial minutes in a game this season. He started in place of Locker in Week 5 in the 26-17 loss to Kansas City and the week after in a 20-13 defeat at the hands of Seattle. In that time he threw just one TD pass, but tallied four interceptions, three fumbles and he was sacked six times. This week he faces NFL sack-leader Robert Mathis, so he can expect plenty the linebacker in his face frequently at LP Field.
Andrew Luck hasn’t been as effective since his favourite target Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL, although youngster T.Y. Hilton has certainly stepped up. While the Colts hold a two-game lead on the Titans in the AFC South, they have a couple of major problems on offence; firstly, the offensive line can’t protect Luck; and secondly, the running game is just woeful. Indianapolis managed just 18 yards rushing against St Louis and Luck accounted for 17 of those. It’s early days but sending a first-rounder to Cleveland for Trent Richardson looks like the wrong move. He got only five carries at the weekend for the grand total of two yards. He is averaging just 2.8 yards per run since moving to Indy. He is a power runner who gets better with a higher volume of work, but the Colts haven’t been able to move the chains forward consistently of late, and there is also a big question mark over his durability.
The Colts have already beaten fellow division rivals Houston and Jacksonville away from home this season, and they can make it a clean sweep with a win in Nashville. Indy has won eight of the last nine contests between the teams and it is 7-4 all-time at LP Field. The Colts are 3-1 on the road this season while the Titans have dropped three straight at home.
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