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Indianapolis Loses At Tennessee

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Normally I don't care about a Colts/Titans game, but this was an interesting game to watch for Packer fans. Maybe you can nitpick this game and say it wasn't a big win for Tennessee, but their fans think it was one of their biggest in a long time.

The final score was 31-21, but Tennessee's defense really relaxed after their last score made it 31-14. The Colts got a meaningless late TD to make it a 10 point game. But the game could have been closer than that:

  • On the Titans' TD drive in the 3rd quarter, the drive should have stalled before mid-field. But a illegal use of the hands penalty on 3rd down, and later a pass interference call, kept it alive. Penalties weren't a major problem for the Colts, they only had 5 for 35 yards, but it killed them on this drive. Those two penalties changed the game.
  • On two consecutive possessions, near the end of the 3rd quarter and near the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Colts decided to go for it on 4th down instead of punting. They didn't convert either 4th down attempt and the Titans scored after each change of possession.
  • The late INT off the hands of TE Dallas Clark that led to a TD run by RB Chris Johnson on the next play was obviously a big swing too, but that happened after the Colts were down 24-14 and needed two scores in the final five minutes. Obviously it was a big play, obviously it put the game away, but I thought the game was done after the Titans 2nd TD so I didn't think this play had as big an impact on the game.

Those were the big differences in the game. If you saw the Titans up 31-14 late in the 4th quarter, it might have seemed like it was a blowout, but it was close most of the game. That's good news for Packer fans because the Packers and Colts are two similar teams.

How did the Colts matchup against the Titans?

  • TE Dallas Clark killed them with 2 TDs. But don't expect TE Donald Lee to go wild at Tennessee. Clark is more like a 3rd WR than a TE, and Tennessee is average against number 3 WRs. The Packers need WR Jordy Nelson to have a break out game.
  • DT Albert Haynesworth is a rock. He's the best DT in the NFL. He doesn't get moved and he creates a pass rush up the middle. The Packers' interior o-line is going to have their hands full, and will probably double team him all game. Journeyman DT Tony Brown had a good game too, but he really abused backup rookie OL Mike Pollak and I expect RG Jason Spitz to play much better than Pollak.
  • You can't sack QB Kerry Collins. The Titans o-line is very good, and Collins has only been sacked ONCE this season. This after Collins was always good, on average, for about 3 sacks per game in his long career. The offense is designed to get rid of the ball quickly, but the Colts still had trouble getting anywhere near Collins on the rush.
  • Tennessee won't throw the ball further then 10 yards down the field. Collins spent most the game throwing short 5 yard passes to the tight ends and running backs. Indianapolis responded by putting eight men in the box, only one safety deep, and it did slow down Tennessee's running game. Eventually Collins started to throw more deep passes, he had a couple nice 15 yard pass completions and almost had a couple big gains. I'm sure they're not the best deep passing team in the NFL, but it's not like they can't do it. They choose not to do it. Considering Collins hasn't thrown for over 200 yards in a game this season, I don't expect them to open up the deep ball against the Packers either.
  • RB LenDale White. He's leading the NFL with 10 rushing TDs, but he's only averaged over 4 yards/carry in one game this season. It took him 10 carries to get 13 yards and his 2 TDs against Indianapolis. He's successful because the Titans are, but they aren't successful because of him.
  • RB Chris Johnson. He's great, a very hard runner. Plus he's got a lot of speed, but he didn't get many chances to show it off against Indianapolis. He hasn't been recorded with a fumble this season, but he had poor hands in this game. He did have one fumble that the refs missed when he was tackled from behind in the 1st half. He also had a couple dropped passes, including one that should have been intercepted. The Packers' linebackers and secondary are going to have to do a very good job tackling Johnson to keep him contained and prevent any big plays.
  • Tennessee's pass coverage. Indianapolis did a good job protecting QB Peyton Manning, but the Titans were missing their top pass rusher, Pro Bowl DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. He could be back next week. Still Manning had nowhere to throw, except Clark got open a few times. The coverage in the secondary was very tight, and it should be no different against the Packers.
  • Tennessee's run defense. With Vanden Bosch out, DE Jacob Ford started in his place. He's undersized at 256 lbs. and the Colts had some success running at him. The Titans other DE, Jevon Kearse, has never been known for his run defense either. Mike McCarthy should be planning to run off-tackle on several plays next Sunday. I was wondering earlier this week whether the Packers should abandon the run and pass most of the time, but now I see that the Packers have to get RB Ryan Grant involved in the game. He can have some success running against Tennessee. After watching Tennessee's suffocating pass defense, the Packers will need to get something from the run offense because they won't be able to pass the ball for much of the game.