With the Tennessee Titans just hours away from an attempt to exact revenge against the Indianapolis Colts, it’s time to take a look at Tennessee’s keys to victory in Week 13.
The Titans are looking for their first divisional win of the season after failing to nab one in their first two tries. One of those attempts came against the Colts, who nabbed a 23-16 win at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 5.
While there aren’t many reasons to be optimistic about the Titans going into this game after they barely squeaked out a win against a bad team in Week 12, the contest is taking place in Nissan Stadium, where Tennessee is a perfect 4-0 in 2023.
But the Titans are going to need more than just help from the fans to win this game. Here’s a look at their three keys to victory against the Colts in Week 13.
A more complete game from Will Levis
Levis was sensational in the first half of last week’s game before he struggled mightily in the second half. Thankfully, the defense was able to hold off a terrible Carolina Panthers offense, which made Tennessee’s 17 first-half points stand up despite the offense scoring zero points over the final two quarters.
The Titans are facing a much better offense in the Colts’, thus they can’t afford a no-show from the offense in either half.
Avoiding that begins and ends with pass protection, which is even more of a concern this week with the Colts sporting one of the better pass-rushes in the NFL. But Levis simply needs to play better, also, and hit the kinds of open throws he missed last week.
If the group upfront isn’t holding up and/or Levis struggles with accuracy again, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly needs to abandon longer-developing plays and get the ball out of his quarterback’s hands quickly with short, easy throws that can keep the offense moving forward.
Establish the run
Another way the Titans can help Levis is to get the ground game going. Doing so will both setup play action, where the Kentucky product thrives, and slow down the Colts’ talented pass-rush.
Indy enters the game with a run defense that ranks 26th in the NFL, but the unit has also had success against Tennessee’s rushing attack this season after it held Derrick Henry to just 43 yards in Week 5.
The offensive line has been the main problem behind the issues on the ground for Tennessee this season, but Henry also has to do a better job finding the holes when the group upfront actually opens them.
Win the battle upfront on defense
As we know, time in the pocket for opposing signal-callers usually means bad things for the Titans’ pass defense, which has been disappointing in coverage all season long.
The Titans pressured Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew 15 times in Week 5, but the pass-rush only notched one sack, which allowed Minshew to have his way with Tennessee’s secondary in the two-plus quarters he played.
But not only do the Titans have to win the battle upfront to get to Minshew, they also have to avoid allowing the Colts and Zack Moss to run wild after Indy torched Tennessee’s run defense for 193 yards last time out.
If the Colts are able to move the ball on the ground in a similar fashion, it’ll force the Titans to bring extra help, which will make an already vulnerable secondary even more exploitable.
Tennessee’s defense has to shut Moss down and force Minshew, who will hopefully be dealing with a tenacious pass-rush for 60 minutes, to beat them with his arm.