Things don’t look good for the 0-4 Tennessee Titans this week. The division-leading 4-0 Colts will try to extend their lead over Tennessee to five games, which would make it virtually impossible for the Titans to catch them.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is red hot and will face a secondary which has been reeling. Manning has passed for over 300 yards in four consecutive games, with nine touchdowns and a hefty 114.5 QB rating, despite losing his number two receiver and not having a running game he can count on.
To make matters worse for the Titans, nickelback Vince Fuller will be out again and corners Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper are injured. Finnegan was able to practice today, for the first time since injuring his hamstring, but Harper missed practice.
If either Finnegan or Harper can’t go, rookie Jason McCourty will get his second NFL start. If both are out, fellow rook Ryan Mouton should get the nod at the other corner. And when the Colts go three-wide, inexperienced second-year man Cary Williams, who was recently released and re-signed, will come in. I expect Williams will take a corner spot with Mouton moving inside.
I don’t like what I’m visualizing here. Having those three on the field at the same time is scary and with all the inexperience there, Chuck Cecil will probably have to keep things rather basic.
I imagine the Colts will go with three-WR sets quite a bit, to ensure those three get on the field and stay there.
The Colts defense is playing pretty well too, despite the temporary absence of Hitman Bob Sanders. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are terrorizing quarterbacks again, which isn’t a good sign when Michael Roos and David Stewart aren’t playing as well as usual.
Given all of this, I don’t see a lot the Titans can do. They always try to keep Peyton on the sidelines and have had some success with that but the Dolphins couldn’t beat the Colts in Week Two despite a 45-15 time of possession advantage.
Maybe Finnegan will be able to play and perhaps Harper too, if he wears a flak jacket. Maybe Tennessee will throw a few 3-4 looks at Peyton. Obviously, they can’t do that too often but they have done it a few times with some success and 3-4 defenses have given Manning some problems in the past. The Jags’ new 3-4 held the Colts to 14 points in Week One.
I don’t expect that to happen this week. Look for a Sunday night shootout on national TV. I only hope the Titans can do some shooting as well.
So that leaves us with this burning question. How many times will Jeff Fisher call for fake punts and onsides kicks?