Titans-Colts Preview: Can Derrick Henry Continue His Success Against a Colts Defense That’ll Be Without a Number of Key Starters? – BlackSportsOnline
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Titans-Colts Preview: Can Derrick Henry Continue His Success Against a Colts Defense That’ll Be Without a Number of Key Starters?

Titans vs. Colts, winner takes sole possession of first place in the AFC South with 5 games left to play in the regular season.

This one is for all the marbles…..temporarily.

Let’s jump into it.

Major Storylines Heading Into The Game

Winner of This Game Controls The AFC South…..For Now

No team wants to depend on other teams to make or break their playoff lives, right?

Both of these teams will have their chance to take a step towards avoiding just that tomorrow, since this crucial game will decide who carries the AFC South division lead into week 13.

For both teams, winning this game while giving yourself some room in the division and the AFC playoff field will be important, since the rest of their schedules after tomorrow’s game includes some big time matchups.

Next weekend, Tennessee will have a big home game against the Cleveland Browns, in a matchup between two teams that love to pound the rock as often as they can. Then fast forward a couple more weeks, and they’ll visit Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers, which is always a tough place to play in November/December.

Indy faces the same situation, with games against the Raiders and Steelers still remaining on the docket.

However, they’ll both have some soft games in between these difficult matchups, so it isn’t all bad.

Both Teams Come Into This Game Missing Some Important Players

The NFL knew they’d meet some never before seen adversity this season, mostly due to the fact that COVID-19 is still running rampant in the United States.

For Indy, they’re getting a little taste of those challenges right about now, as a couple of important players on their roster have been hit with COVID-19.

DeForest Bucker, one of the more disruptive interior defensive lineman in the league, will miss tomorrow’s game due to contracting the virus. Denico Autry, a rising young talent on the Colts’ defense, is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, who is an important part of the Colts’ running game, will also miss tomorrow’s game due to COVID-19 complications.

That’s 2 key players that’ll miss this crucial AFC South battle, a stain on an otherwise exciting matchup.

Aside from COVID related news though, the regular injury bug has bit both of these teams on the butt.

Indianapolis will be missing Bobby Okereke on defense due to an actual injury, which is important to note since he’s been one of the big reasons why this Colts run defense has been so good this season.

On offense, starting center Ryan Kelly was ruled out today by the Colts as well, which leaves this usually dominant offensive line with a question in the middle.

As for the Titans, they’ll be missing their backup tackle Ty Sambrailo, and they also could be missing starting guard Rodger Saffold. Wide receiver Adam Humphries will miss tomorrow’s game due to a concussion he suffered in week 8, and starting center Ben Jones is fighting through a painful knee injury.

And that’s just on the offensive side.

Starting linebacker Jayon Brown was put on IR earlier this week, and this defense still continues roll on without Adoree’ Jackson and Jadeveon Clowney.

None of these teams will be fully healthy for tomorrow’s game, but both sides will tell you that injuries still don’t count as an excuse whether they win or lose.

In other words, it’s basically game on.

Matchups to Watch

1. Will Compton vs. Nyheim Hines

Jayon Brown was placed on IR earlier this week, and odds are it’ll be a long term stay on injured reserve for the ex-UCLA product.

So stepping up in his place, will likely be Will Compton, who replaced Brown when he went down with his nasty looking elbow injury this past Sunday against Baltimore.

Compton will be tasked with providing steady play at that linebacker spot, and that includes trying his best to limit the damage Nyheim Hines can do in the passing game.

When these 2 teams played against each other a couple of weeks ago, Hines made this Titans defense look silly, specifically when he was asked to run routes against linebackers in man coverage. Brown himself struggled to limit Hines’ impact on the game, which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence for Compton’s potential to do what Brown couldn’t do, since Compton doesn’t possess nearly the same athleticism as Brown.

I imagine the Titans will try keep Compton out of those situations as much as possible, but if he finds himself in one, watch it closely.

2. The Titans’ Run Game vs. Colts’ Defense

Derrick Henry put together another 100 yard rushing performance last week in Baltimore, while also getting over the 1,000 yard mark for the season.

He’ll have a good chance keep his recent stretch of success going tomorrow, against a Colts team that’ll be missing 3 key pieces on defense.

Bobby Okereke, Denico Autry, and DeForest Bucker will all miss tomorrow’s game, with the latter being the most important in terms of limiting the damage opposing teams can make in the run game.

If Derrick Henry has another good day tomorrow, the absences of those 3 players will be a reason why.

X-Factors

Tennessee Titans: OT David Quessenberry

With Ty Sambrailo out for this game, and potentially the season, the Titans will likely turn to David Quessenberry to fill the spot at left tackle.

Quessenberry played well after he replaced the injured Sambrailo last week in Baltimore, and his overall game resembles more of what Taylor Lewan can do at the left tackle spot, so the concern there shouldn’t reach alarming levels.

But he’s still a bottom of the depth chart tackle going up against a very talented Colts pass rush, so he’ll be watched closely.

If he can hold his side down in pass protection, and do his job as a run blocker, the Titans just might have a good day offensively.

Indianapolis Colts: iDL Tyquan Lewis

Tyquan Lewis will be one of the benefactors from DeForest Buckner missing tomorrow’s game, so he’ll be listed as an X-Factor.

Lewis is having the best season of his career so far, with 6 sacks and 3.5 TFL’s credited to his name this year. He’ll be tasked with plugging holes in the run game, and giving this interior offensive line for the Titans trouble all game long.

With the Titans potentially missing a starter up front, Lewis could have a shot at making some noise.

Prediction

This is such a big game between two evenly matched teams.

Lucas Oil Stadium has been somewhat of a symbolic house of horrors for the Titans, as they’ve won in that specific stadium only twice since it opened in 2008.

However, the Colts will be missing a number of starters in their front 7, which means trouble in terms of their ability to stop the run.

I’ll take the Titans here, but boy it’ll be a close game.

Titans: 27

Colts: 24



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