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Tennessee Titans – Indianapolis Colts preview

Two weeks ago, in previewing the Titans-Texans game, I wrote it should be called a “Misery Loves Company” game. At the time, Tennessee had lost three games in a row and Houston had a four-game losing streak. Well, there was nothing like a weak Titans team to cure what ailed the Texans.

Time now for the same song, second verse.

In another “Misery Loves Company” game, the Indianapolis Colts are hoping the Titans are just what the doctor ordered to get them feeling well again. The Colts have lost three games in a row, and four of their last five, yet are only one game out of the division lead. The Titans, as we know, remain mired in what is now a five-game slump, going on nine.

Which of these teams will still be in misery following Thursday night’s prime-time showdown? More thoughts on that, after the jump.

Overview: Peyton Manning has thrown 11 picks in his last three games and four of them were pick-sixes. It’s probably been his worst three game stretch since his rookie year. 

The Colts usually seem to have a rather lengthy injury report and they’ve definitely been hit hard by the injury bug this year. I’m of the persuasion these have put Peyton into a position where he’s forcing throws, for two reasons.

First, the defense has been giving up a lot of points, partly due to injuries. In the last three weeks, opponents have scored 31, 36 and 38 points. Peyton has had to throw more to try to keep up.

Second, injuries have decimated the Colts ground game, also forcing the offense to go airborne.
Colts offense: Indy has almost no running game. Joseph Addai has been absent and it’s been sorely felt. I don’t think most people, myself included, realized how much he meant to their offense. His backup, 2009 first-year draft pick Donald Brown, has also been absent more than present. Third-stringer Mike Hart has also been injured, leaving most of the workload to the #4 back, Javarris James, cousin of Edgerrin.

It’s become so desperate the Colts had to recall Dominic Rhodes to active duty.

Fortunately for Manning, he hasn’t lost all of his receivers to injury, only about half of them. Dallas Clark and Anthony Gonzalez are on IR and Austin Collie has been out with concussion issues. And of course, Addai was a big part of their passing game.

Reggie Wayne is having another very good year (90 receptions, 1,107 yards) but it seems quiet. Pierre Garcon has been extremely inconsistent but remains capable of having huge games. I have enough faith in him against the Titans secondary to start him on several of my fantasy teams. Ditto for Wayne and for Clark’s replacement, TE Jacob Tamme.

The Titans finally had a game last week where the opposing tight end didn’t have huge numbers. No credit to the Titans for that, the Jags simply didn’t throw much because they didn’t need to. I suspect Marcedes Lewis could have had a big day if the Jags wanted for him to.

I suspect Tamme can also have a big game if Manning chooses to go to him and I see no reason why he wouldn’t. It would be like taking free money and the Colts won’t try to run much. Same for going to Garcon, assuming he’s learned to be on the same page as Peyton.

Of course Peyton will target Wayne and pick on Cortland Finnegan, just because he can and just on general principle.

Peyton can probably put 31 to 35 points on the board. Given the Titans’ difficulty in finding the end zone lately, that’s probably three more TDs than he’ll need. 

Colts defense:
It’s a mess on that side of the ball too. SS Bob Sanders was finally put on IR, following his replacement, Melvin Bullitt. CB Jerraud Powers has also been added to IR and the other starting corner, Kelvin Hayden, will be out with a neck injury. Still, I’m sure the Colts secondary can cover the Titans.

They can put anyone in single coverage on Randy Moss. The Titans hardly ever throw it to him anyway, and when they do, Kerry Collins is off-target. Anybody can cover Justin Gage. You don’t need to cover Nate Washington or Bo Scaife very tightly.  If the ball does somehow find them, they’ll more than likely drop it. Meanwhile, two guys who would need to be covered, Damian Williams and Jared Cook, will spend the game on the bench.

Never mind which reserves will be playing in Indy’s secondary, they should be just fine, yessirree, Bob.

It looks like another week of the opposition loading up the box against the run and daring the Titans to throw.

Colts injury report, starters and notables:
Out — CB Jerraud Powers, RB Mike Hart, CB Kelvin Hayden, S Bob Sanders, LB Clint Session, RB Joseph Addai, WR Austin Collie
Questionable — LB Gary Brackett, RB Donald Brown, T Charlie Johnson, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Jacob Tamme

Throw the Colts’ injury report out the door. The Colts’ misery will end, at least for a week. Maybe Chris Johnson can break a long run for six points. The Titans’  touchdown-less streak will end but their misery and their losing streak will continue.

Colts 31
Titans 10