It’s been a crazy two weeks for the Titans.
Last week we opened this article talking about how the Titans season could be over before it really got started. However, the Titans took that idea and flat out squashed all the doubters with a convincing 27-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. In a game that, at least for fans, felt like a sigh of relief and the breaking of a cycle of oppression from the kings of the jungle up north; the Titans now stand at 2-2 along with the rest of the AFC South.
The Titans now head to Indianapolis for their first divisional battle against the Colts, who have surprised most of the league with their promising start. The Ponies, who were once in the conversation of being bottom feeders in 2023, have impressed throughout the first four games of the season. Now they will face a Titans team who is looking to carry the momentum from last week’s dominant performance into this week and beyond. For our full preview of the game, check out The Hot Read Podcast!
Here are 10 stats that you need to know for Bengals at Titans in this week’s Titans Ten:
1. JT Makes His Return
This preseason was filled with a lot of drama, but none more dramatic than the discourse between running back Jonathan Taylor and crazy uncle Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts. It’s been quiet ever since the season started, but after serving a 4 week stint on the PUP list, Jonathan Taylor is looking to return back to action without a new contract. Getting the dynamic 24 year old back in the fold will help this offense and rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson improve.
However, Taylor could not have drawn a worse matchup for his debut than the Tennessee Titans, a team that has always seemingly had his number. In 5 games against the Titans, Taylor has carried the ball 63 times for 246 yards and has only found the end zone once. The Titans have been excellent at containing Taylors explosive nature, only allowing a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry over those five games. Despite Taylor being back, I wouldn’t expect a big day for the running back looking to show out for a new contract.
2. A Ticking Time Bomb
The biggest surprise for the Colts this season has been none other than 4th overall pick Anthony Richardson. Through three games played, the rookie has looked ahead of expectations, making plays left and right. He hasn’t been the most accurate passer, but his decision making has been solid, and has been a major threat in the run game.
His legs have helped this colts team move down the field a lot early in the season. In fact, Richardson leads the league in explosive play rate, which requires plays of twelve or more rushing yards or twenty or more passing yards. His explosive play percentage has made him the dual threat quarterback that Shane Steichen wanted, and the duo has looked impressive early in the season. The Titans will have their work cut out for them Sunday when they face Richardson for the first of many times.
3. Diving into the Endzone
Just like in Philadelphia, head coach Shane Steichen has found interesting ways to scheme running lanes for his quarterbacks to run in for a score. Now with the dynamic prospect in Anthony Richardson, Steichen picked up where he left off.
Through three games, Richardson has found the Endzone four times. It’s tied for the most rushing touchdowns by a rookie QB through their first three starts in league history. The Titans will have to look to contain Richardson’s elusive running ability to be victorious on Sunday
4. Wrangling the Ponies
The Titans and Colts rivalry has been one of back and forth, spanning back to the early days of the Titans time in Tennessee. In the 2010’s, Andrew Luck reigned supreme over the Titans for his shortened tenure as a colt. And before Luck, Peyton Manning was the top dog in the South.
That’s all changed now, as the Titans have been the one to beat in the South since the turn of the decade. The Titans have won 5 of 6 matchups versus the Colts, including the last 5. Their last loss to the Colts came in 2020. The Titans will look to continue that streak against a rookie quarterback and head coach duo.
5. Ride with Vrabel
The Titans came in early as one point underdogs to start the week, but have quickly turned into one and a half point favorites heading into Indianapolis.
It’s the first time this season that Mike Vrabel has been a favorite, and despite how good he has been as an underdog, there may be no better team to back him against than the Colts.
Vrabel is 6-4 both straight up and against the spread in his career versus the colts. Along with the five game winning streak the Titans are on against the Colts, Vrabel is also 5-0 ATS in those last fave. If you are looking for a side in this game, I’d back Vrabel to continue his steak
6. King Henry Rules The South
The dominant reign of Derrick Henry rolls on, as the 8th year running back passed Earl Campbell for the runner up in total franchise rushing yards last week against the Bengals. This week Henry goes up against a familiar foe in the Colts, one of the AFC South opponents the running back has torched in years past. Henry has played 39 games against the south, in which Henry has averaged 103.6 yards per game, only trailing Barry Sanders in such stat against divisions. Henry is also averaging 5.47 yards per carry on 738 attempts! If that efficiency doesn’t get Henry into the hall of fame I don’t know what will!
7. The Titans have a ELITE Receiver
When the Titans signed Deandre Hopkins in the offseason, the front office thought they were getting an elite wide receiver who would make a massive impact on their season. Little did they know their free agent acquisition in Chris Moore would be their most dynamic receiver. Through 4 games, Moore has the seventh most receptions of 30 or more yards in the league,which ties the vet with receivers like Stefon Diggs and George Pickens. But the former houston texans receiver is among the league’s best in such stat.
8. Kyle Philips Returns
After the four week absence to start the season, Kyle Philips will make his return to the field at a time when the young receivers presence is truly needed. Through four games, the Titans are currently 23rd in third down conversion rate, on getting a new set of downs 36% of the time.
Philips may have no bigger impact this week than on third downs when Tannehill and Tim Kelly desperately need a drive to continue against a questionable and battered secondary
9. Hopkins on His way to the Hall
Deandre Hopkins and Ryan Tannehill will both appear in their 150th career game this week against the Indianapolis Colts. Since joining the team, Hopkins has played a key role in extending drives and serving as the de facto wide receiver one while Treylon Burks is injured. Hopkins is in sole possession of 5th most receptions through his first 150 games with 871. He would need 20 receptions in Sunday’s game to pass Julio Jones for fourth on that list. Seems almost impossible but hey, stranger things have happened…
10. A Battle of Butterfingers
With the return of Jonathan Taylor, the emergence of Anthony Richardson, and the continuing reign of Derrick Henry, this Week 5 matchup looks to be heavy on the ground. But with so much talent, it’s almost certain that both defenses will look to prioritize stopping the run.
It may be time for these receiving groups to step up and make some plays. Both the Titans and Colts have not been good at securing the football in their routes, with the Titans and Colts ranking second and third respectively in drop percentage this season. A major key to the game may just be which receivers can actually simply just catch!