Scouting the Opponent: Indianapolis Colts (again)

Scouting the Opponent is a weekly preview series looking ahead to the Titans upcoming matchup.

If the Tennessee Titans (7-3) vs Indianapolis Colts (7-3) Week 10 game was big, Week 12’s rematch is a colossal mammoth. The winner will hold a sizable advantage down the stretch in the race for the AFC South crown.

The Colts’ previous 34-17 victory was largely due to a Titans’ special teams meltdown, although the defense didn’t provide a lot of resistance while the offense was shut-out in the second half. It’ll take a much better team effort this time around.

The Titans are 2-10 in Indianapolis since Lucas Oil Stadium opened. They won 31-17 on the road in Week 13 last year after losing the first game at home. Will they follow a similar pattern this season?

The Stats

The numbers haven’t changed much since these teams last played.

Titans/RankMetricColts/Rank
10thTotal Yards/G13th
23rdPassing Yards/G10th
5thRushing Yards/G19th
9thTotal Points/G10th
25thTotal Yards Allowed/G2nd
27thPass Yards Allowed/G4th
20thRush Yards Allowed/G3rd
18thPoints Allowed/G5th
2nd (+10)Turnover DifferentialT-4th (+6)
12th (+20)Point Differential5th (+68)
10th (44.5%)3rd D Conversions29th (37.5%)
32nd (54.0%)3rd D Defense14 (40.8%)
17th (50.3 YPG)Penalty Yardage26th (61.6 YPG)
13thDVOA*5th
3rdOffense DVOA16th
26thDefense DVOA5th
30thSpecial Teams DVOA6th
6thRush DVOA – Offense20th
2ndPass DVOA – Offense19th
18thRush DVOA – Defense5th
25thPass DVOA – Defense6th
2020 Statistical Comparison

*DVOA is a Football Outsiders metric that stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. DVOA accounts for a team’s opponents.

As we already know now, the Colts are a defensive-led team while the Titans are better on offense. That’s reflected in nearly every statistical category listed above.

Key Matchups and Personnel

I won’t rehash my notes on head coach and playcaller Frank Reich, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus (you can read those in my last report scouting this opponent).

Let’s just jump straight into some key matchups that could shape the outcome of this game:

  • Titans defense vs RB Nyheim Hines

In their last meeting, Hines torched the Titans defense for 70 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries while adding 45 yards and another score on five catches.

The Titans cannot allow Hines to run wild again. They successfully corralled Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins (who combined for 15 carries for 40 yards), but Hines was a backbreaker for this defense.

The first step to improvement is simply tackling better. Next is having awareness whenever Hines could be a threat in the passing game. This could be prove more difficult than last time with Jayon Brown now out for the season.

  • WR Corey Davis vs CB Xavier Rhodes

Last time I wrote this report, I had A.J. Brown vs Rhodes as a key matchup. Davis ended up being the go-to guy that game, leading the team in all receiving categories with 5 catches for 65 yards on 6 targets.

Both receivers will have to be better, with Davis coming off his third 100-yard game of the season. Brown dropped a 72-yard touchdown in the last matchup. The Titans simply need to execute better, and they should be able to take advantage of Rhodes in man coverage when they have the opportunities.

  • CB Malcolm Butler vs Indianapolis’ wide receivers

Another slight change to this matchup, as last time I wrote Butler vs Michael Pittman, Jr. with the expectation that Butler would shadow the Colts’ rookie receiver. But the Titans ended up breaking their recent pattern of using Butler as a shadow that game, and the Rivers threw for 308 yards.

Most of that came against linebackers and safeties, as Butler and the corners actually did a pretty good job. They’ll need another winning effort from Butler, their most consistent secondary player so far this season.

  • OT David Quessenberry vs… DE Denico Autry?

As of this writing, Autry is still on the COVID list, but he has a chance to come off before Sunday. Quessenberry is expected to start at left tackle in place of the injured Ty Sambrailo, who was filling in for the injured Taylor Lewan.

Quessenberry scored a touchdown against Indianapolis in Week 2 of 2019. This time, he’ll be tasked with a much tougher challenge: playing left tackle for an entire game. If Autry is activated in time, the Titans will need to run every play with this matchup in mind. That means short drops, quick passes, rolling pockets, and lots of help sent Q’s way.

Mike wrote more about Quessenberry’s likely much-increased role going forward HERE, so take a quick break to go read that if you haven’t yet.

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