It’s no secret the Titans run the ball better against 4-3 defenses than they do against 3-4 defenses, and I thought I’d take a closer look at the numbers.
Why would this madman waste his time on such foolishness, you may ask? Two reasons. First, two of the four teams on the Titans’ remaining schedule, the Browns and Steelers, play a 3-4 defense.
Secondly, looking at the standings, it’s entirely possible that four or five of the other AFC teams that will be in the playoffs will play a 3-4. The Steelers and Jets, 3-4 teams, lead their divisions. The Ravens and Patriots are in a three-way tie for wildcard contention with the Colts, all with 7-4 records, and the Dolphins are just a game back at 6-5. And San Diego still has a good chance to win the AFC West.
You can pretty much be assured that the Titans will be facing at least one 3-4 defense in the postseason. It should be noted that the Steelers, Ravens, Patriots and Jets are all top ten defenses in one or more categories. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have the top two defenses in the league.
A look at the 2008 season to date reveals the Titans combined for 92 rushing yards on 33 attempts (2.8 average) and no touchdowns against the Ravens and Jets. Against everybody else, all 4-3 defenses, the Titans have rushed 359 times for 1,572 yards (4.4 average) and 20 touchdowns.
The stats from 2007 aren’t a lot better.
Of course, the most important stat of all is winning and losing, and the Titans are 2-3 in the last two seasons against the 3-4 and 19-5 against 4-3 teams.
Tomorrow I’ll be watching the Colts-Browns game, since Tennessee plays Cleveland next and will play Indy in the regular season finale.
Several things to keep in mind about that game. Which Browns team will show up? They can be great, as when they trounced the Giants 35-14, or they can be terrible, as when they lost 16-6 to the Texans last week. Of all the teams that play a 3-4, the Browns have the worst defense.
The Colts have had injury problems on their o-line, which has been reshuffled and revamped all year. Starters Jeff Saturday and Ryan Lilja are out indefinitely, so if the Colts have problems running the ball, don’t be too quick to credit the Browns.