Sat, 23 Jan 2021

2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Titans, Week 12

Indianapolis Colts
28 Nov 2020, 16:39 GMT+10

For the second time in three weeks, the Indianapolis Colts (7-3) and Tennessee Titans (7-3) face off with the AFC South Division lead on the line — this time on Sunday in Week 12 action at Lucas Oil Stadium. Check out the official game preview. Andrew Walker

INDIANAPOLIS - At this point of the season, they don't get much bigger than this one.

For the second time in three weeks, the Indianapolis Colts (7-3) and Tennessee Titans (7-3) face off with the AFC South Division lead on the line - this time on Sunday in Week 12 action at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

The Colts and Titans on Sunday will be facing off just 17 days apart from their Week 10 matchup on Thursday Night Football at Nissan Stadium, in which Indianapolis dominated the second half to fly home with a 34-17 victory. Since that time, both the Colts and the Titans scratched and clawed their ways to overtime wins over quality opponents in Week 11.

The Colts last Sunday used a 39-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal in overtime to defeat the Green Bay Packers, 34-31, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, but saw its defense shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, saw its special teams come up huge again and saw its offense come alive, as quarterback Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes in all and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor came up huge in the third quarter especially.

The Titans, meanwhile, used a 29-yard walkoff touchdown run by Derrick Henry to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, 30-24, in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium. Tennessee trailed by 11 points 21-10, midway through the third quarter before going on a 14-0 run to take a brief 24-21 lead late in the fourth quarter, and then weathered the storm after Baltimore forced overtime with a 29-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION Sunday, Nov. 29, at 1 p.m. ET Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium TV: CBS - Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Charles Davis (color), Evan Washburn (sideline) Other radio: ESPN Radio - Marc Kestecher (play-by-play), Barrett Jones (color) Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.) Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY) Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH. To find out what games will be on in your area, click here. Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call. National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES Colts lead, 35-17; Colts are 19-9 all-time against the Titans at home. Last game - Week 10 of 2020; Colts won, 34-17, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. Of note: The Titans earned a 31-17 victory over the Colts in their last game played at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 1 of last year. The previous time the Colts lost to the Titans at home - a 20-16 decision in 2017 - they came back to crush Tennessee the following year in the Circle City. In that 38-10 victory in 2018, Andrew Luck completed 23-of-29 passes for 297 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, with T.Y. Hilton turning in a monster game: nine receptions on nine targets for 155 yards and two scores, including a 68-yard bomb. Cornerback Kenny Moore II had 10 tackles and 0.5 sacks, while Darius Leonard had seven tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble. COACHING STAFF

Colts:

HC Frank Reich OC Nick Sirianni DC Matt Eberflus STC Bubba Ventrone

Titans:

HC Mike Vrabel OC Arthur Smith STC Craig Aukerman

(The Titans do not have a defensive coordinator on their coaching staff)

LAST WEEK

Colts:

Won vs. Green Bay Packers (7-3), 34-31 (OT)

Titans:

Won vs. Baltimore Ravens (6-4), 30-24 (OT) INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

OUT - LB Bobby Okereke (ankle) DOUBTFUL - N/A QUESTIONABLE - C Ryan Kelly (neck), G Quenton Nelson (back/ankle), WR Zach Pascal (knee/foot), QB Philip Rivers (toe), LB Anthony Walker (ribs), S Khari Willis (ribs/shoulder) OF NOTE - DT/DE Denico Autry and DT DeForest Buckner are on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and will not play Sunday

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Titans:

OUT - WR Adam Humphries (concussion), CB Adoree' Jackson (knee), TE MyCole Pruitt (knee) DOUBTFUL - N/A QUESTIONABLE - C Ben Jones (knee), G Rodger Saffold III (ankle) STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH Huge AFC South Tilt - The Colts and Titans are not only AFC South Division rivals, but that familiarity will be kicked up a notch on Sunday, as these two teams will be playing for the second time in a 17-day span. You might remember their Week 10 Thursday Night Football matchup in Nashville, in which Indy dominated the second half en route to its 34-17 victory. So it goes without saying that these two teams know each other extremely well heading into Sunday's game, which can, and likely will, factor in heavily down the stretch in the AFC South race. As of this moment, while both teams are 7-3, the Colts are technically leading the division due to their head-to-head win over the Titans, so if Indy can find a way to sweep the season series with a win on Sunday, then it will firmly put itself in the driver's seat with with five games left. But if Tennessee gets the victory on Sunday, then that really puts the pressure on the Colts in their final few games against the Houston Texans (both away and home), the Las Vegas Raiders (away), the currently-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers (away) and at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Depth In The Trenches - Both the Colts (along the defensive line) and the Titans (along the offensive line) have found themselves needing to dig deep up front of late, so Sunday's game could very come down to which team can boast better depth when it comes to the big fellas along the front line. The Colts have two starters along the defensive line - defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry - currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 list; Autry missed last Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, while Buckner was just placed on the list on Wednesday. The Colts on Sunday will be leaning heavily on guys like Tyquan Lewis, Taylor Stallworth, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, and maybe even a couple guys currently on the practice squad in Cassius Marsh and Rob Windsor. The Titans, meanwhile, have been dealing with all sorts of injuries along their offensive line. Star left tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a season-ending knee injury last month, and his replacement, Ty Sambrailo, was just placed on injured reserve with an injury suffered in last Sunday's win over the Baltimore Ravens. Left guard Rodger Saffold III has been trying to play through an ankle injury of late, but missed last Sunday's win over the Baltimore Ravens. And center Ben Jones has been dealing with a nagging knee injury. Whichever unit can rally and find quality play out of its reserves could very well have a huge leg up in this one. Put The 'Special' In Special Teams - The Colts have had solid, top-of-the-league play out of their special teams units all season, but they've been particularly, well, special, of late - and to the Titans' chagrin, they know this fact all too well. Back in the Colts-Titans Week 10 battle at Nissan Stadium, it was linebacker E.J. Speed's blocked punt, which was scooped up and returned for a touchdown by cornerback T.J. Carrie, that turned a 20-17 Colts lead late in the third quarter into a 27-17 score, essentially putting the game out of reach heading into the final period. All told, Indianapolis has one of the league's top field goal units with rookie Rodrigo Blankenship (the AFC's reigning Special Teams Player of the Week), they have one of the league's best field position punters in Rigoberto Sanchez and their coverage units continue to be rock solid. The Titans, meanwhile, have struggled both with their kicking and punting throughout the year. Sunday's game could very well come down to not which team makes more plays on offense and/or defense, but which team is able to make the play on special teams. WHAT THE TITANS ARE SAYING Mike Vrabel On Matchup With Colts Ryan Tannehill On Facing Colts Shane Bowen On Philip Rivers Behind Enemy Lines: Look At Indianapolis Colts Tennessee Titans Injury Report INTRIGUING MATCHUPS Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Titans CB Malcolm Butler: The rookie Pittman Jr. broke out for a career-best performance back in Week 10 against the Titans, finishing with seven receptions for 101 yards, while also adding 21 rushing yards on a reverse play in the third quarter. Pittman Jr. kept the train moving last Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, finishing with three receptions for 66 yards, including his first-career touchdown, a 45-yard catch-and-run play in the first half. The Titans could very well decide to try to slow Pittman Jr. down with Butler, their top outside corner, who has two picks and 11 passes defensed so far this season. If that does end up being the case, look for the Colts to try to counter with lots of T.Y. Hilton. Colts RB Nyheim Hines vs. Titans S Kenny Vaccaro: Vaccaro is working his way back from the league's concussion protocol, and missed last Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens, but his potential return on Sunday could include quite a few matchups against Hines, who gave the Titans plenty of headaches two games ago. The third-year North Carolina State product had 12 rushing attempts for 70 yards and a touchdown, and also hauled in five receptions for 45 yards and another score through the air. Vaccaro, meanwhile, hasn't exactly been solid in coverage this season; according to Pro Football Focus, he's been targeted 33 times on the year and has allowed 26 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns for a QB rating of 130.9. Hines' abilities as a receiver could very well pay huge dividends if and when he's lined up against No. 24 on Sunday in Indy. Colts DT Grover Stewart vs. Titans RB Derrick Henry: Stewart took full advantage of being on national TV during these two teams' last matchup two weeks ago on Thursday Night Football, as he was able to put on display exactly why he's one of the top up-and-coming run-stuffing interior defenders in the league, finishing with five tackles, including an impressive stuff of Henry near the goal line. While Henry finished the game with 19 rushing attempts for 103 yards - putting together only the second 100-yard rushing performance for an opposing running back against the Colts since 2018 (and Henry has the other 100-yard game, too) - he was mostly held in check in terms of those more high-impact plays. With Buckner out, it'll be imperative for Stewart, especially, to keep up the pace up front in the interior for the Indy defensive line, and not allow Henry to break free and use his elite blend of size, speed and strength in the open field. It's easier said than done, but the Colts have certainly gotten it done before. Colts CB Rock Ya-Sin vs. Titans WR Corey Davis: While A.J. Brown has been the Titans' top overall wide receiver, Davis, the fifth-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, has really been able to come on strong of late; he had five receptions for 67 yards against the Colts back in Week 10, and then had five receptions for 113 yards in last Sunday's win over the Ravens. In fact, Davis now leads the Titans with 549 receiving yards. While Ya-Sin, Xavier Rhodes and Kenny Moore II will be tasked with stopping Brown when the Colts are in their nickel formation - Brown was held to a season-low one reception for 21 yards back in Week 10 against the Colts - it'll be on Ya-Sin - who had his first interception of the season against Aaron Rodgers last Sunday - to lock things down against Davis, particularly when lined up against him on the left side. PROJECTED WEATHER (Retractable roof stadium) A mix of clouds and sun in the morning followed by cloudy skies during the afternoon. 10-percent chance of precipitation, temperature in the upper-40s/lower-50sF, winds from the SSW at 4 mph. REFEREE ASSIGNMENT Head referee: John Hussey (19 years). Click here to see all referee assignments for Week 12. BETTING LINE Favorite: Colts (-3) Over/Under: 51 REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

Passing - QB Philip Rivers (2,683 yards) Rushing - RB Jonathan Taylor (518 yards) Receiving - WR Zach Pascal (384 yards) Touchdowns - RB Nyheim Hines (6) Tackles - LB Darius Leonard (66) Sacks - Denico Autry (6.0) Interceptions - S Julian Blackmon, CB T.J. Carrie, CB Kenny Moore II, CB Xavier Rhodes (2 each)

Titans:

Passing - QB Ryan Tannehill (2,387 yards) Rushing - RB Derrick Henry (1,079 yards) Receiving - WR Corey Davis (549 yards) Touchdowns - RB Derrick Henry (9) Tackles - LB Jayon Brown (76) Sacks - LB Harold Landry (3.5) Interceptions - S Amani Hooker (3) COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

Total offense - 13th (373.4 YPG) Scoring - 10th (27.6 PPG) Passing offense - 10th (264.2 YPG) Sack percentage allowed - 2nd (2.82) Rushing offense - 19th (109.2 YPG) Third down offense - Tied-26th (37.50 percent) Red zone offense - 25th (55.26 percent) Total defense - 2nd (298.1 YPG) Scoring defense - 5th (20.8 PPG) Passing defense - Tied-4th (208.9 YPG) Sacks - Tied-14th (22) Rushing defense - 3rd (89.2 YPG) Third down defense - 14th (40.80 percent) Red zone defense - 18th (65.52 percent) Time of possession - 9th (31:26) Turnover differential - Tied-4th (+6)

Titans:

Total offense - 10th (379.4 YPG) Scoring - 9th (27.9 PPG) Passing offense - 23rd (228.3 YPG) Sack percentage allowed - 10th (4.78) Rushing offense - 5th (151.1 YPG) Third down offense - 10th (44.54 percent) Red zone offense - 6th (71.79 percent) Total defense - 25th (389.9 YPG) Scoring defense - 18th (25.9 PPG) Passing defense - 27th (267.4 YPG) Sacks - 30th (12) Rushing defense - Tied-19th (121.5 YPG) Third down defense - 32nd (53.96 percent) Red zone defense - Tied-25th (69.23 percent) Time of possession - 28th (28:13) Turnover differential - 2nd (+10) NOTES AND QUOTES With one game with a score, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship will tie Raul Allegre (11) for the second-most consecutive games with a score by a rookie in franchise history. With one pass defensed, cornerback T.J. Carrie will reach 50 career passes defensed With one defensive or special teams return for a touchdown, Carrie will tie Ray Buchanan and Terrence Wilkins (three) for the most such touchdowns in single-season franchise history. With one interception returned for a touchdown, cornerbacks T.J. Carrie, Kenny Moore II and/or Xavier Rhodes will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history. With one touchdown, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will pass Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most total touchdowns in team history. With one receiving touchdown, Hilton will tie Dallas Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in team history. With 20 scrimmage yards, Hilton will reach 9,000 career scrimmage yards. He would become just the sixth player in franchise history to reach that plateau. With 75 receiving yards, Hilton will reach 9,000 career receiving yards. He would become just the fourth player in franchise history to reach that plateau. With one game with 10+ receptions, Hilton will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history. With two receptions, running back Nyheim Hines will pass Reggie Wayne (144) for the seventh-most receptions by a Colts player in their first three seasons. With one safety, defensive end Justin Houston will tie Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history. With six tackles, cornerback Xavier Rhodes will reach 400 career tackles. With one game with three-or-more touchdown passes, quarterback Philip Rivers will tie Dan Marino (62) for the sixth-most games of three-or-more touchdown passes in NFL history. With one game with 400+ passing yards, Rivers will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history. With one game with 100.0+ passer rating, Rivers will pass Brett Favre (108) for the fourth-most such games in NFL history. With one game started, Rivers will pass Eli Manning (234) and tie Charles Woodson (235) for the ninth-most games started in NFL history. "I think that's just it, it's a balance. It's a little of both. You have to change it up a little bit. You want to throw a few curveballs to keep the hitter off balance, but you have to throw your main pitch. If your fast ball is your pitch or your slider is your pitch, that's your go-to. That's kind of the way we'll roll. We'll continue to throw and run the plays that are core to us, but we'll always try to have a few wrinkles here and there to complement those things." - Colts head coach Frank Reich, on striking a balance of mixing things up, but also sticking to what works, against an opponent like the Titans that the team will have played just 17 days prior on Sunday. "That's what our hope is, that we are affecting the quarterback through the pressure or the perceived pressure of the front four, number one. Then also the disguising of our other pressures that we do bring. Hopefully we're speeding that guy up and the ball is getting out quick. Then we have to be a good tackling team. We have to contest the throws, we have to knock the ball down or do a great job with our tackling ability in that short zone. We're always looking to do that, but hopefully we feel that through the course of the game we start speeding guys up." - Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, on the advantage of trying to speed a quarterback up and force mistakes, even if they're getting the ball out of their hand quickly. "I just think a lot of the guys are making plays. They're doing a great job. Nyheim (Hines) is making plays, he is a mismatch for teams. Michael Pittman Jr. being back healthy, yes like you said, and contributing. . Zach Pascal (is) contributing and doing what he has done his entire career here. T.Y. (Hilton) having solid games each week with four or five catches each week. He is always over 50, 60 yards. I think it's just a cumulative effect of everybody really being on it, obviously Philip (Rivers) being on it and getting the timing with these receivers over and over again. We have three tight ends - those guys are deadly too. We love the fact that we have three tight ends that we can put on the field and be in run formations and pass the ball out of. I think it's just a cumulation of all the guys and everything our group brings to the table. We just have a diverse group of guys that have a great skillset when you add them all up together." - Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, on why he thinks the Indy passing game has been on a roll of late. 50/50 RAFFLE The Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle will be ACTIVE for the Colts vs. Titans game on Nov. 29. During the 2020 season, all Colts games including the 50/50 Raffle will be cashless. Debit cards are the only form of payment that will be accepted to purchase a 50/50 Raffle ticket. Reverse ATM machines are available for fans who need to exchange their cash for pre-paid debit cards. These machines are located outside of sections 116 and 153. For more information on the Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle, visit www.colts.com/5050. CATCH BEFORE THE GAME Bobby Okereke Ruled Out Sunday Against The Titans; Denico Autry, DeForest Buckner Also To Miss Game; Six Questionable Colts Thursday Notebook: Colts, Titans Players Get Thanksgiving Day Off Colts Wednesday Notebook: DeForest Buckner Placed On Reserve/COVID-19 List; Philip Rivers Held Out Of Practice Rodrigo Blankenship Named AFC Special Teams Player Of The Week Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne Among Semifinalists For Pro Football Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021 How to Watch Titans @ Colts Colts Release Week 12 Unofficial Depth Chart For Titans Matchup Colts To Monitor Philip Rivers' Toe, Braden Smith's Thumb Five Things Learned: Colts-Packers (2020, Week 11)

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