NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The ultimate sport of the season for the Tennessee Titans will probably be a rematch against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The sport has been flexed to Sunday night time (eight:20 ET, NBC) the place the winner advances to the playoffs and presumably units themselves up for an AFC South division title (pending the Houston Texans’ result in Week 17).
Will probably be crucial for Tennessee to hold the ball out of Luck’s fingers by dominating the time of possession battle. A ball-control offense is the best defense against the Colts. Titans working again Derrick Henry is working the ball with extra authority and carrying down opposing defenses as his carries enhance.
Having to presumably play with out quarterback Marcus Mariota after he was knocked out of final week’s sport due to a stinger might give Henry extra accountability. The Titans are 5-zero when Henry carries the ball 15 or extra occasions.
“I really feel like as soon as I am in the circulation, I am seeing every little thing. I am ending runs and having the ability to get north and south and have momentum. [And when] the offensive line is clicking, too,” Henry mentioned.
Luck is again to his outdated methods regardless of lacking 2017 with a shoulder damage. The seventh-12 months QB is having considered one of the best seasons of his profession thanks largely to coach Frank Reich. Luck has four,308 passing yards this season to associate with 36 landing passes.
Luck carved up the Titans for 297 passing yards and three landing passes the final time the two groups performed in Week 11. He accomplished 79.three % of his passes, averaging 10.24 yards per cross. The Colts managed the time of possession, holding the ball for over 31 minutes.
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The Titans cannot enable Indianapolis to put drives collectively they usually should pressure the Colts’ offense to get anxious to make huge performs — restricted alternatives on the area will assist get rid of lengthy drives by Reich’s unit.
After a tough begin, the Titans’ cross defense has settled down, giving up solely 66 explosive performs (15 or extra yards speeding and 20 or extra passing) this season, rating them amongst the prime 10 in the league. The shortage of huge performs allowed by the Titans’ defense is not by chance.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees says he has performed in depth analysis to calculate the quantity of occasions a workforce scores on his defense with out the assist of an enormous play or penalty.
“It normally comes down to lower than 5 drives per 12 months the place a workforce scores on you and not using a huge play or penalty,” Pees mentioned. “I’ve performed a examine yearly. When you do not quit a penalty or an enormous play, it is actually exhausting for a workforce to rating on you. That is been an emphasis from the very first assembly I had with these guys. I gave them that stat.”
Eliminating the huge performs won’t be straightforward against Indianapolis, a workforce that is properly geared up to generate huge performs. Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton is considered one of the most explosive gamers in the NFL. Hilton has 26 receptions of 20 yards or extra, together with 5 which have gone for over 40 yards.
The speedy deep menace was the main weapon Indianapolis used when it beat the Titans earlier this season. Hilton had 9 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee primarily used cornerback Adoree Jackson to cowl Hilton. They will possible give Jackson an opportunity to redeem himself on Sunday.
Will probably be a win-and-in deal for the Titans in the prime-time matchup with the Colts. Luck has despatched Tennessee residence with a loss in 10 consecutive video games.
Coach Mike Vrabel says the Titans have principally performed playoff video games the previous 4 weeks. Tennessee had to win all of their video games down the stretch to hold their playoff hopes alive.
Security Kevin Byard agrees with Vrabel’s suggestion that the Titans have responded with a heightened sense of urgency.
“Andrew Luck has beat us one thing like 10 straight video games,” he mentioned. “We now have to do no matter it takes to win. I really feel like the playoffs began for us some time again. It is a survive-and-advance mentality, and we’re surviving now.”