NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Titans (1-2) go for their fourth straight win over the Colts (1-1-1) in Indianapolis Sunday.
After years of Colt domination led by Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, the Titans have turned the tables winning three in a row and four of the last five in the series. Indy still leads the all-time series 35-19.
The two headliners are the two running backs, Titans star Derrick Henry and the Colts Jonathan Taylor. They have combined to win the last three NFL rushing titles and the head-to-head winner probably wins the game Sunday.
NFL Rushing Champions:
- 2021 – Jonathan Taylor – 1,811 Yards
- 2020 – Derrick Henry – 2,027 Yards
- 2019 – Derrick Henry – 1,540 Yards
- 2018 – Ezekiel Elliott – 1,434 Yards
Taylor is a special back, who like Henry possesses home run ability on every carry and Mike Vrabel knows it, “Speed, breakaway speed, toughness but also patience to dip in and kind of burst out. We’re all at the point of attack and are going to have a great wall. We can’t give (Jonathan Taylor) a whole lot of seams. Tackling him one-on-one is not where you want to be all afternoon,” said Vrabel.
The news for the Titans in this matchup is not good. They are giving up a whopping 5.8 yards per carry, which is last in the NFL. For Henry, this game takes him back to where he suffered a broken foot last season knocking him out for nine games.
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On Thursday, Henry insisted his foot is healthy and not an issue. He also does not see this game as having any special meaning in his return from injury.
Henry and the Titan’s run game do have some work to do and it will not be easy against a Colts defense giving up an NFL-best 2.63 yards per carry. “It’s always a battle in the trenches,” Henry said, “they have a good run defense, it’s always a challenge so you have to get your mind right.”
Over the last two-plus seasons, Henry is averaging 119 yards per game but he does not have a 100-yard game in any of the Titans’ first three games this season and he has only 1 carry over 20 yards.
Defensively, the Titans want to put the Colts in a position of having to throw the ball because they are struggling mightily to protect quarterback Matt Ryan, who has been sacked 12 times and hit 16 more. That consistent pressure has led to Ryan turning it over 11 times with 7 fumbles and 4 interceptions.
The Titans’ pass rush gets a boost this week with the return of outside linebackers Bud Dupree and Ola Adeniyi. If the Titans’ run defense can improve enough to force the Colts into third and long they should have a big advantage. The Titans’ third-down defense is among the best in the league at 22%.
The key Sunday is slowing down Jonathan Taylor enough to get there.