Game 12 Preview: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
By Andrew Strickert
Posted December 1st, 2006

The Tennessee Titans will seek to add to their two-game winning streak when they host the Indianapolis Colts this week at LP Field. The 4-7 Titans are coming off a great fourth-quarter come-from-behind 24-21 victory over the Giants.

The 10-1 Colts lost their first game of the year two weeks ago but rebounded last week, shellacking the Eagles 45-21. Coach Tony Dungy’s team, which was an 18˝-point favorite over the Titans in October, is only a 7˝-point favorite this time around.

Field: Grass. Forecast: Mostly sunny, high near 43°, NNW wind 10-15 mph. Kickoff: 12:00 noon, CT.

Indianapolis Scouting Report
It looks like the Colts got their offense back on track with the 45-point performance last week. Much of the scouting report remains the same as it was for the first Colts game (see here) this year, with a few personnel additions and subtractions.

Offense - Peyton Manning is on track for another Pro Bowl appearance, leading the league in passer rating (100.2) and touchdown passes (21). Reggie Wayne has emerged from the shadow of Marvin Harrison, supplanting him as the Colts’ leader in receiving yards (962) and touchdowns (8) to Harrison’s 821 and five.

Slot receiver Brandon Stokley is listed as questionable on the injury report, and although free agent Ricky Proehl was signed, it will take him a while to become acclimated. If Stokley is out, look for a lot of two-TE sets with Ben Utecht (if available) and Bryan Fletcher instead of three-WR formations. Tight end Dallas Clark will be out with a knee injury.

Dominic Rhodes remains as the starting back, rotating with rookie Joseph Addai, who had a breakout game last week with 171 yards and four touchdowns against the Eagles.

RT Ryan Diem left the game last week with a rib injury and is listed as questionable on the injury report. Rookie Charlie Johnson did a capable job replacing him, as the O-line played well in blocking for a 239-yard rushing effort by Addai and Rhodes, all without yielding a sack.

The Colts’ offense ranks second in the league in passing (262 ypg), third in scoring (28 ppg) and total offense (379 ypg), and 14th in rushing (117 ypg).

Defense - As usually happens to most teams around this time of year, injuries are beginning to take their toll. DTs Corey Simon and Monte Reagor are out, but the Colts have added a veteran presence in the middle in the person of Booger McFarland. Robert Mathis (8˝ sacks) and Dwight Freeney continue to add pressure from their DE positions.

Cato June (96 tackles) and Gary Brackett (83) remain healthy at LB, but starting LLB Gilbert Gardner is also on the injury report.

The defense isn’t as good without safeties Bob Sanders, who has played one game since knee surgery, and Mike Doss, who’s on Injured Reserve. Starters LCB Nick Harper (3 interceptions) and SS Antoine Bethea join Harper on the injury report. The Tampa-2 Colts D is still third in the league in pass defense.

Despite all the injuries, the defense played decently in limiting the Eagles to 21 points last week. Besides ranking third in the league in pass defense (164 ypg), Indianapolis is 13th in total defense (318 ypg), 15th in scoring defense (21 ppg), and 31st in rushing defense (154 ypg).

Special Teams - Clutch kicker Adam Vinateri has made 18 of 20 field goal attempts this year. Punter Hunter Smith is doing his regular reliable, if infrequent, job with a 45.5 average and ten punts inside the 20 vs only four touchbacks. Terrence Wilkins has proved to be a dangerous returner with an 82-yard TD return. He averages 10.5 yards on punt returns and 25 yards on kickoffs. The coverage units have some issues, giving up 15.1 yards on punt returns (31st in league) and 25.3 on kick returns (30th).

Expected Strategies

The Titans will try to control the game with their ninth-ranked rushing offense against Indy’s 31st rush defense. In their last meeting, Travis Henry gained 123 yards on just 19 carries. DC Jim Schwartz used a two-deep zone forcing Manning to throw underneath last time but will need to add some new wrinkles. Tennessee will be more than happy to let the Colts run the ball and throw short again if it prevents Manning from connecting deep with Wayne and Harrison.

Jeff Fisher said the Titans saved some things for the Colts they didn’t pull out of the bag last time. As the Colts know well, Fisher isn’t afraid to use trick plays on occasion.

While the passing game is still the bread and butter for Indy, they too would like to use their newfound running game against the league’s 30th rush defense. Defensively, they’ll try what every team will, stopping the run and making a rookie QB try to carry the load.

Key Matchups
The Titans secondary vs the Colt receivers. Several teams (Tennessee, Buffalo, Dallas) have been able to slow the Colts aerial attack, so it can be done. The Titans O-line and running game vs the Colts front seven will be a key on the other side of the ball.

Last Meeting

The upset-minded Titans nearly pulled it off in Week Five, building a 10-0 lead before falling 14-13 in Indianapolis.


Manning has undoubtedly dissected the tape from the last game many times and will have some answers. Injuries to Stokley and Clark will limit his options passing, but the emergence of Addai will help keep the chains moving. Vince Young will play much better against the Colts the second time around, but will be hard pressed to put as many points on the board as Manning.

Colts 31, Titans 24

Read Andrew Strickert's blog at Total Titans.

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