Well, week 1 was fun, wasn’t it, Titans fans?
After months of listening to Browns hype and the Baker Mayfield national media love affair, the Titans went into Cleveland and walked out of the Dog Pound with a 43-13 win.
It was a great showing from the boys in Two Toned Blue, but like I said in last week’s preview, Week 1 can be misleading. Will Lamar Jackson lead the league in passing touchdowns this year? I doubt it. Will Sammy Watkins average 198 receiving yards per game? As a Tyreek Hill fantasy owner, gosh I hope not.
I will say I liked the way first time offensive coordinator and play-caller Arthur Smith took what the defense gave him and got the ball into the hands of his playmakers. Yes, Corey Davis went without a catch. But a big part of that was the fact the Browns top cornerback Denzel Ward shadowed him. AJ Brown, however, showed why he was a second-round pick in his three catches for 100 yards.
Now, it’s on to Week 2, and the division-rival Colts are coming to town. I doubt you live under a rock, but just in case you do, Andrew Luck retired. He was undefeated in his career against the Titans, going 11-0 in his seven-year career. Jacoby Brissett is now the starting quarterback for the Colts. Brissett faced the Titans twice in 2017 when he filled in for an injured Luck, and Indy lost both of those games on the way to a 4-12 record.
This year’s Colts team is much improved from that disappointing 2017 squad. It took overtime for a promising Chargers team to get the win against the Brissett-led Colts in Week 1. What was looked at by Titans fans as two easy division wins after Luck retired, has turned into what should be two hard fought battles, and the first matchup is this Sunday. Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans (-3)
Game Time: 1 pm EDT/Noon CDT
Location: Nashville, TN (Nissan Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Radio: Titans Radio, 104-5 The Zone
Radio Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Rhett Bryan, Jonathan Hutton
At Halftime, the Titans will honor legends Eddie George and Steve McNair by retiring the numbers 9 and 27. For more info go HERE.
Colts Offseason Moves
Before August 24th, the Colts were one of the perennial favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. And then Andrew Luck retired. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Indy’s odds to win the AFC went from +700 to +3200 after they lost Luck, and from +1500 to +6000 to win the Super Bowl. Not a great day to be a Colts’ fan.
However, the Colts still have one of the best offensive lines in the league, led by second-year All-Pro guard Quentin Nelson. It’s a luxury they didn’t have when Luck sat out the 2017 season, and the Titans will need to contain this rushing attack that went for over 200 yards in Week 1. If Tennessee is able to do that, the Colts might just run out of Luck on Sunday (horrible pun very much intended).
Key Offseason Additions: Devin Funchess (WR), Justin Houston (DE), Spencer Ware (RB), Rock Ya-Sin (CB, rookie), Parris Campbell (WR, rookie)
Key Offseason Departures: Andrew Luck (QB), Dontrelle Inman (WR), Al Woods (DT), Hassan Ridgeway (DE), Najee Goode (OLB)
Titans Injury News
-LB Reggie Gilbert, who the Titans acquired a few days prior to Week 1, is still working back from a knee injury and did not practice this week.
-OG Kevin Pamphile (knee) didn’t practice this week and has been listed as out on the injury report. Jamil Douglas will get his second start of the season in Pamphile’s absence.
-RB David Fluellen limped off the field at practice on Wednesday, and has now been listed on the injury report with a hamstring injury. The team signed RB Dalyn Dawkins to the practice squad on Thursday, and if Fluellen has to miss Sunday’s game, look for Dawkins to serve as the third running back behind Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis.
-Both Cameron Wake and Delanie Walker missed Wednesday’s practice with “non-injury related” reasons, but both were full participants Thursday and Friday.
Things to Watch For
Titans Wide Receiver Usage: Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense only needed 14 completions to hang 43 points on the Browns in Week 1. That’s the sort of low volume, high efficiency you love to see out of Mariota if you’re Arthur Smith. But out of those 14 completions, only four of them went to receivers. Rookie AJ Brown had three receptions and Adam Humphries had just one. Obviously, the end result was an ideal one, and Davis had one of the best young cornerbacks in the league–Denzel Ward—shadowing him all day, but you’d love to see more production out of this group of receivers. This week look for Mariota to try and get Davis and Brown involved early against this Colts secondary, who allowed Keenan Allen to put up 123 yards on eight catches in Week 1.
Dion Lewis Game?: Look, I’m fully aware Derrick Henry is the lead back and has averaged 6.0 yards per carry in his career against the Colts. But I’m also aware of what Austin Eckler did in Week 1 against this Colts defense—six receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns—and I have to wonder if the Titans’ coaches want to utilize their pass-catching back, too. Lewis didn’t look particularly sharp against the Browns, but if there was ever a game to try and utilize his skillset, it’s this Sunday.
Contain TY: Much easier said than done. Over the last two seasons (four games against the Titans), TY Hilton has only had one game with more than two catches. Granted, in that one game he had nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns, so I’m not saying the Titans have done a bang-up job every time they’ve seen Hilton. But in one game this season with Jacoby Brissett, Hilton seemed to be his main target. Hilton finished that game with eight catches on nine targets for 87 yards and two touchdowns. With Devin Funchess being put on Injured Reserve this week, Dion Cain and rookie Parris Campbell are the next guys up. Cain and Campbell combined for just three catches in Week 1, so containing Hilton would go a long way towards shutting down this Colts’ offense.
This matchup against the Colts will be a significant stepping stone for the Titans if they want to compete for the division title this season. They showed in Week 1 that they thrive as underdogs. Now, the Titans need to show they can take care of business in games in which they’re favored