For the first time since 2014 the Tennessee Titans are back on Monday Night Football as they take on the division rival Indianapolis Colts. They are looking to break a losing streak to the Colts that dates back to 2011, and the good news is that Marcus Mariota looks to be healthy and ready to play. Here are the week six Tennessee Titans keys to victory.
Week Six Tennessee Titans Keys to Victory
Getting the running game going
The Colts have struggled against the run for years and while they have made a modest improvement to 16th in that category at 103.4 yards per game, Tennessee should still have an opportunity to get their running game on track. Meanwhile, the Titans have been hit or miss running the football so far this season after they ranked third in rushing yards last season.
DeMarco Murray has not had a good start to the season with just 273 rushing yards, 115 of which came against Seattle helped by a 75 yard touchdown run. It’s been about the only impact Murray has had all season. Take out the 75 yard touchdown run, his average per attempt is just 3.6 yards. That’s simply not good enough considering the system and line in place to make life easy for running backs.
Derrick Henry figures to get some work this week. It’s been pretty simple for the Titans this season: when Henry gets double digit carries the Titans win. He has struggled the past couple of weeks but as a bruising back, he will get opportunities to pound the rock this week.
Get the receivers involved
Corey Davis has been battling injuries ever since training camp, and in the meantime the passing game has sputtered. Eric Decker, the marquee free agent for the Titans this off-season, has been basically non-existent this season. He has 16 catches for 138 yards, less than nine yards per reception. Last year’s number one Rishard Matthews still has been the most productive of the receivers with 20 catches for 284 yards.
Meanwhile, tight end Jonnu Smith has become the go to target in the red zone. He leads the team with two touchdown catches. In addition to Smith, newcomer Taywan Taylor has shown some potential as he leads the team with 14.4 yards per catch. The Titans need to get the ball in the hands of the blazing third round pick.
Limit the Colts Rushing Attack
While Andrew Luck is still on the mend, the former New England Patriots backup will keep the reigns for the Colts. Jacoby Brissett actually leads the Colts with three rushing touchdowns this season, so limiting his opportunities in the open field is crucial.
The biggest weakness so far for the Titans has been their secondary, to the surprise of nobody. If Brissett can get out of the pocket and hit T.Y. Hilton on a deep ball or two that may be too much for Tennessee to overcome. The Titans offense is not built to play catch up.
Frank Gore looks like a 34 year old running back the way he is playing right now. He’s averaging just 3.2 yards per rush. But the young Marlon Mack has burst onto the scene over the past week. He ran for 91 yards against the San Francisco 49ers and can catch passes out of the backfield. He’s been underused by the Colts so far, but if the Colts ever give him the top back slot, teams better look out for this guy and be prepared to stop him.
The Titans run defense has also not been as expected coming into the season. They rank just 18th in terms of yards per game, however they are tenth in terms of yards per carry at just 3.7. This is going to be one of those matchups where something’s gotta give: either the Titans run defense or Mack’s big play ability.
The Colts have played decent at home this season as they won two of three close games against the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. However, it should be mentioned that those three teams have two total wins between them–and the Cardinals have both of them (of course, that was the game Indianapolis lost).
However, on the road it has been a different story. They have been blown out in their two road games this season, at the Los Angeles Rams (with Scott Tolzien at quarterback) and at Seattle. The Tennessee crowd better be ready to bring it and for their first Monday Night Football appearance in three seasons, I bet the crowd obliges.
The Colts are not a very good team. However, if Mariota is not playing or on his game, Tennessee is not either. Mariota said earlier this week that he has dreamed of playing on Monday night, and he should make his first performance a memorable one. This will be a crucial early season divisional matchup for both teams as the four AFC South teams all sit within a game of one another.