Tennessee Titans (5-2, 5-2 ATS) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4, 5-2), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Titans Stats and Trends
The Titans pulled out a 25-16 victory over the Colts in Nashville as 4.5-point home favorites back in Week 8.
The Titans are on a run with three straight outright and ATS victories, and they’re 5-1 ATS in their last six games.
Tennessee has played over the total in five straight road games
Derrick Henry averaged just 3.0 YPC and he finished under 100 rushing yards (29/86 rushing) for the first time since Week 1, but he still came through for fantasy thanks to a touchdown pass and 2/16 receiving. He managed 28/113 rushing (4.0 YPC) and 3/31 receiving in this matchup in Week 3, and the Colts are allowing the fourth-fewest FPG (18.6) to RBs this season.
Ryan Tannehill reached 20+ FP for just the second time last week with 270/1 passing and 20.4 FP, which was actually a bit disappointing considering Henry didn’t score a rushing TD and they scored 27 points against the Chiefs. He had his best fantasy game of the season against the Colts in Week 3, posting 197/3 passing and 5/56 rushing.
It’s been a painfully slow start for A.J. Brown in 2021 because of hamstring issues, but he’s finally starting to turn the corner over the last two weeks. He had to contend with a stomach bug in the last two games, but he still posted 15/224/1 receiving on 18 targets against the Bills and Chiefs. He left their matchup early in Week 3 without a catch after suffering his initial hamstring. Deebo Samuel ripped the Colts for 7/100/1 receiving last week.
Julio Jones has reached 9+ FP in just one of his five games in the lineup after posting 2/38 receiving on four targets last week while playing a season-low 43% of the snaps. He needs to start practicing in full to give him more trust in fantasy lineups moving forward. Julio posted 3/47 receiving on four targets on just 50% of the snaps because of his hamstring issues against the Colts in Week 3.
Brolley’s Colts Stats and Trends
The Colts have turned a corner ever since their loss to the Titans in Week 3 with four straight covers, three of which have come by cover margins of 12.5 points or more.
Indy is 4-1 toward unders in its last five home games.
Jonathan Taylor is coming off a season-best 69% snap share in miserable conditions in Week 7. He’s scored touchdowns in four straight games with six scores total in that span, and he’s totaled 110+ scrimmage yards in each of those contests. A healthy offensive line with LG Quenton Nelson back has enabled his recent streak of hot play. Taylor saw a season-low 11 touches which he turned into just 72 scrimmage yards and 8.2 FP against the Titans earlier this year.
Carson Wentz reached 21.3 FP last week despite playing in a monsoon, and he’s thrown for two TDs in each of his last four games. He also got back to running with 4/23/1 rushing after posting just 14 rushing yards in Weeks 3-6 combined. He played through injuries to both of his ankles when these teams met in Week 3. The Titans have given up 22+ FP to QBs in four of their seven contests. Tennessee’s defense just limited Kansas City’s offense to their worst showing in Andy Reid’s nine-year tenure.
Michael Pittman has seen his targets dip the last two weeks with just seven combined looks after seeing 7+ targets in four straight games in Weeks 2-5. He made the most of his opportunities last week with 4/105/1 receiving with an aDOT sitting 22.5 yards. Pittman posted 6/68 receiving on 12 targets when these teams met earlier this year.
T.Y. Hilton saw his first action of the season in Week 6 after having neck surgery at the end of August, and he made his first action of the season count by catching all four of his targets for 80 yards. He finished third in routes (16) behind Pittman (22) and Zach Pascal (19), but he picked up a quad injury that kept him out of the lineup last week. He didn’t practice last week so he’s up in the air again for their showdown with the Titans. Hilton posted 8/121/1 receiving in two matchups against the Titans last season.
Mo Alie-Cox once again ran fewer routes than Jack Doyle (16 to 11) last week, and he’s averaging just 3.0 targets per game this season, but he stayed hot as a red-zone target with another touchdown last week. He’s scored in three of his last four games with four total scores in that span, and he also has exactly three catches in three of his last four contests. He managed just 2/14 receiving in this matchup in Week 3, and they limited Travis Kelce to 7/65 receiving on 12 targets last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.9 (16th)
Plays per game: 73.0 (1st)
Pass: 54.8% (28th) | Run: 45.2% (5th)
Pace: 30.8 (28th)
Plays per game: 64.7 (22nd)
Pass: 57.1% (24th) | Run: 42.9% (9th)
Outside of getting wrecked on Opening Day against the Cardinals and flopping against the Jets because they didn’t have Brown or Julio, the Titans have been damn good offensively with 33, 25, 37, 34, and 27 points scored in their other five games. Even though they’re moving the ball well, it hasn’t resulted in big fantasy numbers for Ryan Tannehill – who has just 22, 29, and 27 attempts over their last three games. Tennessee is just feeding Derrick Henry in all game-scripts as they’re the 10th-most run-heavy team when the game is within a score, sixth-most run-heavy when trailing, and 10th-most run-heavy when leading.
Meanwhile, the Colts three wins have come against the 1-6 Dolphins, 1-6 Texans, and 2-4 49ers. I get it – they’re at home and this is the second meeting between these two teams – but it has at least felt like the Titans are hitting on way higher gears than the Colts have all season long. Regardless, Indy is the same team every week: Slow and balanced. Overall, this game is smack dab in the middle of the pack in terms of pace and play for Week 8 and the seven previous meetings between these two sides have been fairly tame outside of their second-to-last matchup where Henry scored 3 TDs. Titans-Colts has combined for 48, 50, 36, 48, 51, 71, and 41 total points since 2018.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The Colts have won three of their last four, but those victories were collected facing the Dolphins, Texans, and 49ers. And Tennessee just took down Indy in Week 3 by a score of 25-16. Ryan Tannehill still managed three TDs strikes and his highest output of the season (23.48 FPs) without the full services of A.J. Brown (sans eight snaps) and Julio Jones due to injury.
With AJB and Julio still inching themselves closer to 100% health, we’ve yet to see the true ceiling from this offense. A scary thought after taking victories over Buffalo and Kansas City the last two weeks. And we’ll see the Titans forced to take to the air more than they would like against a Colts defense that has been one of the top-10 defenses against play action — the bread-and-butter of this offense — this season. The Colts are giving a green light to the ninth-most pure passing FPG to opposing QBs (17.1). And the factor that reared its ugly head in Week 3 — a pass rush generating the third-fewest QB pressures — has yet to be resolved.
Michael Pittman Jr. has emerged as the WR1 for Carson Wentz. During the previous six games, Pittman is averaging 16.5 FPG. If we remove his poor output from the 31-3 drubbing of the Texans in Week 6, he’s averaging 18.6. And don’t buy into the narrative that T.Y. Hilton took over with his 4/80/0 line in Week 6. Hilton collected 65% of that yardage on a 52-yard reception. And Pittman only saw one fewer target in a game where little was asked of the Colts’ passing offense.
Is it possible Hilton overtakes Pittman? Absolutely. But the consistent flow of evidence in front of us points to a solid relationship between Pittman and Wentz. With the Titans playing last-man-standing at cornerback, Pittman is going to see a lot of reps against Greg Mabin, a recent free agent signing. Mabin submitted a solid performance last week, but he managed to avoid any coverage snaps on Tyreek Hill — most likely by design.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
This is certainly the definition of a letdown spot for the Titans after season-defining — and goal-defining — wins over the Bills and the Chiefs, the two AFC finalists a season ago. But I have a tough time believing Mike Vrabel will let them get too much up their own asses for this game with the Colts — a win here would give the Titans a three-game standings advantage over Indianapolis, and with a clean sweep over their rivals in head-to-head games, effectively a four-game advantage with 10 games to play.
In other words, if the Titans win in Week 8 to get to 6-2, and go merely .500 the rest of the season, The Colts would need to go 9-1 to win the division. This game is huge for both clubs.
So from my perspective, I expect the Titans’ big dogs — Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and AJ Brown — to step up and bark in a big way.
I especially like the matchup for Brown, as the Colts had no answer for Deebo Samuel last week, even in a driving rainstorm. Xavier Rhodes gutted his way through a calf injury, while Brown gutted his way through a literal gut issue (bad Chipotle, seriously), for the second straight week. After a slow start, AJB is looking like the second-round fantasy pick he was in August. Julio Jones (hamstring) is out, and it’s looking like that trade will turn out a bust for the Titans as it stands right now.
The Colts are starting to play much better, too, and while they’re not a high-volume passing team, that probably suits Carson Wentz well right now. And Wentz is, physically, not the same player he was when these teams squared off in Week 3.
#Titans HC Mike Vrabel feels Carson Wentz is playing a lot better now that he's getting healthy. Feels the #Colts are a lot different from the team they played in Week 3. pic.twitter.com/EhyduqpMDp— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) October 27, 2021
The question for the Titans is if they can carry over last week’s unbelievable defensive performance against the hapless Chiefs into Week 8. The defense has been a weak point for Tennessee this year, but they went bombs away on Patrick Mahomes. Of course, the Colts are also getting healthier up front, where RT Braden Smith (foot) has a chance to play this week after returning to practice last week. Combined with the return of LG Quenton Nelson last week, and Wentz’s projected offensive line will be intact for the first time this season.
Wentz’s play has elevated Michael Pittman to a must-start WR3 — I’ll chalk up his lack of volume the last two games to playing the Texans in a blowout and the 49ers in a monsoon. And he still produced in that bad weather. We’ll see if TY Hilton (quad) can play this week — he practiced in full on Friday — but Pittman is Wentz’s guy.
Our guy Graham has been ranting about Jonathan Taylor’s usage all year. Is he finally getting his wish? From Stat-Pack:
Is it finally happening? Did Frank Reich actually see the light? Jonathan Taylor set season-highs in snaps (69%) and carries (18) in Week 7.
Taylor also led the backfield in routes (21) by a massive margin over Nyheim Hines (8). Taylor has now run more routes than Hines in four-straight games.
Taylor leads the league in carries from inside-the-five with 15. The next closest back is Derrick Henry with 10 and Damien Harris / Ezekiel Elliott with 9.
The next guy for Reich to stop being stubborn with is TE Mo Alie-Cox. Whereas Jack Doyle is one of the least efficient TEs in football (his 0.19 FP/Rt ranks 47th), Alie-Cox is one of the most efficient (his 0.57 FP/Rt ranks second).