Colts Gab NFL Week Eight Preview – Indianapolis at Tennessee

WHEN THE COLTS HAVE THE BALL

In four career starts, Indianapolis quarterback Curtis Painter has completed 60-of-108 passes (55.6 percent) for 813 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and an 87.5 passer rating. Running back Joseph Addai has three rushing touchdowns in his past three games against Tennessee, but is a question mark for Sunday’s tilt after aggravating a hamstring injury in last week’s debacle. Rookie running back Delone Carter, a fourth-round choice in this past April’s draft, had a career-high 89 rushing yards last week and has scored a touchdown in two of his past three games. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne needs three receptions to surpass Hall of Famer Steve Largent (819) for the 20th-most catches all-time, while fellow wideout Pierre Garcon is averaging 102.3 receiving yards per game in his past three encounters with the Titans. Garcon has three touchdown catches in his last two matchups against Tennessee as well, while wide receiver Austin Collie has three scoring catches in two career games against the Titans.

Cornerback Jason McCourty leads the Titans in tackles (51) and interceptions (two) in 2011. Up front, defensive end Dave Ball has 16 tackles and a sack and linebacker Will Weatherspoon has 32 tackles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery.

The Colts are 29th in scoring offense (15.9 ppg), 30th in total yards (280.0 ypg), 27th in passing yards (185.9 ypg) and 25th in rushing offense (94.1 ypg). Tennessee is in the middle of the pack in many defensive categories, placing 15th in scoring defense (22.5 ppg), 16th in total yards allowed (358.0 ypg), 15th in pass defense (233.5 ypg) and 24th against the run (124.5 ypg).

WHEN THE TITANS HAVE THE BALL

Tennessee has won three of four games at LP Field dating back to December of last season, while quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has a 90-plus passer rating in four of six games this year. In his only career start against the Colts, which came while with the Seahawks in 2005, Hasselbeck completed 17-of-21 passes (81 percent) for 168 yards with two touchdowns and posted a 131.7 passer rating. Running back Chris Johnson has 100-plus rushing yards in two of has last three games against the Colts and needs two rushing touchdowns to surpass Steve McNair (36) for the third-most in franchise history in that category, behind only Earl Campbell (73) and Eddie George (64). Johnson needs 134 rushing yards to reach 5,000 for his career as well, and tied a season-best with six receptions last week. Wide receiver Nate Washington has 90-plus receiving yards in two of three home games this season and tight end Jared Cook is averaging 17.7 yards per catch (13 receptions, 230 yards) on the year. Cook has a touchdown catch in two of his past three games as well.

Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney needs 1 1/2 sacks to become the 26th player with 100 in a career since the stat became official in 1982. Freeney has 13 sacks in 16 career games against the Titans. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson registered his first sack as a Colt last week, while linebacker Pat Angerer leads the team with 79 tackles. Free safety Antoine Bethea has 58 tackles and a fumble recovery on the year.

The Titans are 25th in scoring offense (18.7 ppg), 24th in total yards (307.2 ypg), 12th in passing yards (242.8 ypg) and last in rush yards (64.3 ypg). Indianapolis is dead last in scoring defense (32.1 ppg), 30th in total yards allowed (416.0 ypg), 23rd in passing yards surrendered (265.1 ypg) and 31st in rush defense (150.9 ypg).

KEYS TO THE GAME

The offseason’s biggest ticket — the $50 million man Johnson — could finally get his breakout game against a porous Indianapolis defense that’s allowed 150.9 yards per game on the ground. A big day for the standout running back would certainly increase the Titans’ odds of winning.

On the flip side, Manning understudy Painter has bravely tried, but so far failed, to follow in his mentor’s footsteps. He gets another chance to shine against a statistically middle-of-the-pack Tennessee unit, and how he performs will go a long way in determining Indianapolis’ chances for success.

Now that the Colts’ losing has begin to devolve into players vs. coaches, it’ll be interesting to see how and if Caldwell is able to fire up the troops in an already lost season.

Prediction – What happened to the Titans last week? They looked like it would be a bounce back game against the Texans, and all that happened is they were bounced for 41 points in a 41-7 setback. They need to find a way to get Chris Johnson more involved, and the O-line hasn’t played well the last two games as well. The Colts allowed 62 last week, and their offense had few bright spots in the beating. Indy is another bad team that is suffering through a bad season, and it won’t get better here. Tennessee 27 Indianapolis 14


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