Seven Things To Watch For: Colts at Titans
Seven Things To Watch For: Colts at Titans
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INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time since 2004, the Colts will open up on the road in Weeks 1 and 2.
It’s a trip to Nashville this Sunday afternoon as the Colts (0-1) take on the Titans (1-0) in their lone AFC South matchup until mid-October.
Here are 7 things to watch for on Sunday afternoon in the 1:00 PM kickoff:
1. Better Tackling
While the Indy defense had 4 sacks and forced a red-zone turnover in Week One, the unit did not play good enough football.
Tackling was an issue in the season opener for Matt Eberflus.
That must be cleaned up, especially when you have the powerful Derrick Henry, jitterbug Dion Lewis and elusive Marcus Mariota on the opposing sideline this weekend.
Speaking of tackling, it looks like the Colts will be without key pass rusher DE-Kemoko Turay (neck) on Sunday.
2. Making Up For Devin Funchess
The first big offensive injury of 2019 has hit wide receiver Devin Funchess.
At 6-4 and 225 pounds, Funchess brought a unique frame to the wideout position in Indy. We saw Frank Reich’s affinity for using Funchess in Week One.
The likes of Deon Cain and Eric Ebron now will be called upon even more to try and replicate some of the big bodied/1-on-1 matchup wins that Funchess showed in the season opener.
Cain is the intriguing young wideout who will be counted on heavily in the next two months, with Funchess on IR
3. Pound It In The Heat
With a steamy forecast, north of 90 degrees scheduled for Sunday in Nashville, the Colts would be wise to use a similar offensive blueprint that we saw in a cooler Los Angeles last weekend.
Continue to pound the football, throughout all 60 minutes, and try to wear down a strong (but older) Tennessee front.
The Colts were patient with the run game in Week One, finally exploding for a huge second half to send the contest into overtime.
4. Adam Vinatieri’s Right Leg
I can’t recall this being something to watch going into a Colts game more than one time in the last handful of years.
But, the normally reliable, Vinatieri will have all eyes on him this Sunday after he missed 3 kicks in the season-opening loss to the Chargers.
Vinny did change up his practice routine this week, after seeing some technique issues on film from Week One.
If Vinatieri struggles again on Sunday, the Colts are going to have to take a hard look at possibly moving on from their Hall of Fame kicker.
In Vinny’s last 4 games, he’s missed 6 kicks (3 field goals and 3 extra points). Five of those six misses have come from shorter than 35 yards.
5. Special Teams Cleanup
The entire 4th down unit for the Colts was pathetic in the season opener.
While that one costly penalty on Denico Autry wasn’t really an error, there were still miscues in kick coverage, poor protection and the Vinatieri issues cost the Colts around 10 points against the Chargers.
This unit needs to get back to being the sound and steady phase it’s been for years in Indianapolis.
6. More Vertical Passing?
While the Colts offense did enough to win in Week One, we didn’t see many chunks at all from the passing unit.
Just 1 completion of more than 20 yards.
A strong rushing attack from the Colts in the season opener should open up some things in the vertical passing game.
The passing playbook should also start to open up a bit, with the likes of T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell being two weapons that can benefit from all the attention that should be going towards the run game after Week One.
7. Continuing The Dominance Over Tennessee
The Colts have owned the Titans.
The Colts are 18-3 in their last 21 meetings against Tennessee.
Now, two of those losses occurred in 2017, when Jacoby Brissett quarterbacked a far less talented Colts team.
You know the Titans are fully aware of this stat and should have a sour taste for how the Colts ended their 2018 season, in Nashville, by winning the play-in game for the postseason.
In a bigger picture view, a loss on Sunday for the Colts would mean they start 0-2 for the fifth time in the last six years.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts, 23-20. Those in Vegas see two very evenly matched up teams in Week Two. The road Colts are a three-point underdog to the Titans. I do think it’s a coin-flip type of game. A big area will be 4th down, where the Colts were horrific in Week One. But I’m going with the Colts based off the blueprint we saw from their offense in the opener. If they can pound the ball, find similar run-game success, and hit a few chunks in the passing game off that, I think that will be the difference. It’s going to be a sweaty 4th quarter, for the players and fans. Still, I think the Colts continue their dominance over the Titans and sneak out of Nashville with a win, thus avoiding another 0-2 start.