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Andy

Double A Breakdown: Week 14

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The Colts are coming off a miraculous comeback victory over the Lions and hope to continue their 2 game winning streak. Now, they're back at home, and are facing the Tennessee Titans, who always give the Colts a tough time. Jake Locker is making his first official start against the Colts, and Andrew Luck looks to beat the Titans for a 2nd time this season. The Titans have been hot on the road recently, so it should make an interesting battle.

What the Colts Need to do to Win

On offense, Andrew Luck just needs to have a mistake free game. He doesn't need to have a big performance like the one he had last week. If the Colts want to handily beat the Titans, Luck must avoid interceptions and limit the forced throws. So, with that mentality, the Colts should try and develop the short passing game. They don't need to launch passes down the field. The Titans are surprising good against the deep passes. They have ballhawks like Michael Griffin, who are waiting to intercept the ball. The Colts haven't really tried to develop the short passing game, so this could be a good oppurtunity to do that. They're going to need it down the stretch, and it would be good for Luck to get more comfortable with throwing the short pass. Whether the receiver is open or not, the long ball is always a big gamble, and when the Colts do it 10+ times a game (Ball traveled at least 23yards in the air 11 times last week), you can expect to have a few interceptions. When you start facing Houston at the end of the season, and teams like Denver, Baltimore, New England, and/or Pittsburgh in the playoffs, you can't have multiple interception games. Let's face it, last week was a bit lucky (no pun intended). The Colts scored 14 points with 2:40 left in the game. You won't be able to do that against any of the teams I just mentioned. So, start developing the short passing game, so that Luck can get more used to it. What the Colts can also do is because of the weak Titans D-line, you can have more receivers, as you won't need extra blockers on the line. If Luck can have 4, even 5 receiving options, he'll probably find them. All he needs to do is play mistake free football.

The running game needs to have a big day, as it will probably be having a big role on Sunday. This could be the most action it's seen in weeks, as the Colts will probably want to have more of a balanced attack versus the Titans. If the Colts want to dominate in the time of possession, they'll need some help from Vick Ballard. He's going to be getting the majority of the carries as Donald Brown is out, so expect about 9 more carries for Ballard. That means the blocking must be good...

...As for the offensive line. The Titans D-line isn't very dangerous, so this week, (as mentioned) they Colts don't have to bring extra blockers. The only thing that worries me in the upcoming game is Jeff Linkenbach. I'm assuming he plays at right tackle for the injured Winston Justice and if that's the case, he'll be going up against Kamerion Wimbley, a speed rusher. Linkenbach doesn't do well against speed rushers, so if he's struggling, put Allen on the end to help block or "chip." The interior shouldn't need help. If the Titans bring blitzes, they should be able to pick them up, and if they can't, Luck will have to scramble. I'm confident Castonzo could beat Morgan, but if he can't, Vick Ballard will need to help block.

Then the defense.

The Titans O-line is pretty good, so to get extra pressure on the Locker, the Colts need to bring Freeman up the middle on several plays. They need to get pressure on Locker, it's very important. Locker has been rated as one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL with pressure, throwing interceptions about 6% of the time and he tends to hold the ball and try to make plays. It rarely works. So the Colts need to have at least 5 guys rushing each down and then occasionally bring in a linebacker or even a safety. They need to pressure him.

The Titans are also a team that likes to stretch the field vertically. What I would think would work perfectly to prevent those deep plays, would be to play a lot of Cover 2 or Cover 3. Have 5 or 6 of the front 7 blitz, then get two safeties deep, corners playing within their starting zone, and then the linebackers have the middle/running backs. That's how the Patriots shut down Andrew Luck, and similar to what the Jets did (the only difference is that they play a lot of man coverage when it came to the cornerbacks, but the safeties played deep). That's how you stop a vertical offense.

So, the linebackers are playing an important role. They are going to have to blitz, cover and shadow the running backs. Freeman is a better blitzer, both are solid in coverage (did great jobs against the Lions' tight ends), and Conner is very good at stopping the run. Angerer could potentially be used in coverage too, but he won't be playing too much. It's going to be up to Freeman and Conner. If they stick to their strengths, they'll have a good game.

As for the secondary, they'll need to take away the deep and intermediate throws and make them rely on the short passes. If their running game isn't booming, the Titans will need to take some shots. Antoine Bethea needs to have more a coverage role, and Lefeged should be used more as a wildcard. He can play the pass or the run. Vontae Davis should be put up against Nate Washigton, and Vaughn against Wright. Washington is a possesion receiver and Davis is the Colts' best cornerback. Wright is a big play guy, and Vaughn isn't horrible against big play guys. Darius Butler should go up against Kenny Britt.

So, to recap, the Colts must send extra blitzers on the quarterback, and play both safeties pretty deep. Take out the run early on by stacking the box and playing contain, and then when they start passing more, you start playing more conservatively, which means more deep zones.

What the Titans Need to do to Win

On offense, the Titans need to maintain a balanced attack. Jake Locker always performs best when he's in a balanced gameplan. Also, with a time-killing balanced attacks, you keep the opponents offense off the field, which when you're against Andrew Luck, is a very good thing. You want to keep the guy off the field. All of the Colts' wins (with the exception of the first game, where they essentially tied) come when they have more time of possesion. They keep their opponents off the field, now the Titans must do the same to the Colts. The blocking needs to be important.

Chris Johnson must have a big game if the Titans hope to win. He's been up and down this year, but when they feed this guy the rock, he does well. So... give Chris Johnson a lot of carries. Maintain that balance that we spoke of before. Try runs to the outside or just inside the tackles (off-tackle runs). The Colts do well when it's right up the gut, plus Johnson has crazy good speed, so let him use it. You won't go very fast up the gut, unless you have huge holes, which don't happen often.

On defense, they must find a way to get pressure on Luck. That should be the number 1 priority. Another thing they must do is to disguise their coverages, which means play a lot of zone, and have ballhawk Michael Griffin in Reggie Wayne's area. He had an interception against Luck in the first game and he could definitely get another one this game. He's very smart at reading plays and routes.

To help take away the long ball, which the Colts strive on, they need to play Griffin and Babineaux deep, and have no one get behind them. Actually, I never thought I'd say this, but the Tampa 2 defense seems to be a good defense to stop the Colts. If you can take away the deep ball, you're making the Colts play in a different kind of game, which could be good or bad, but it's better than letting them have the deep ball factor.

Intriguing Matchups

The most intriguing matchups has to the Colts' receivers vs the Titans defensive backs. The Colts receiving core has really grown this season. Originally, it was just Reggie Wayne with Donnie Avery having a few impact plays. It's now Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery and TY Hilton having major impacts. Reggie is having a phenomenal season, TY has shown that he's very explosive, and Donnie has proven that he's more than just a deep threat. Now, the Titans have some stars in their secondary, but they've been underperforming. They've proven that they can be a great group, but that hasn't happened this year. If they can find a way to shut down the Colts' receiving group, Luck will be in some trouble.

Bold Statement

Vick Ballard gets at least 40 more rushing yards than Chris Johnson.

Prediction

Indianapolis Colts 27 vs Tennessee Titans 20

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The Titans have 4 players of their starting Oline on IR(Michael Roos is the only on still active) so their Oline is as fragile as they come at this point in the year

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The Titans have 4 players of their starting Oline on IR(Michael Roos is the only on still active) so their Oline is as fragile as they come at this point in the year

As of 2 weeks ago, they ranked as the 13th best in the league. That was when they had 2 on IR (Stewart was placed last week and the same with Hutchinson).

This isn't a bad O-line, and Roos is one of the better left tackles in the league.

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As of 2 weeks ago, they ranked as the 13th best in the league. That was when they had 2 on IR (Stewart was placed last week and the same with Hutchinson).

This isn't a bad O-line, and Roos is one of the better left tackles in the league.

It wasn't bad at first, but it's going be bad now that the whole line is on IR

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IMO, the Colts didnt get "lucky" last week as you mentioned. They played their tails off for 60 minutes of football on both sides of the ball, especially the defense in the 2nd half. Agree 100% on Luck needing to eliminate the Int`s, especially against the teams you mentioned. The Colts offense has been able to move the ball against every opponent, just to get stopped dead in their tracks with turnovers. Hopefully they can clean that up and make a run for the playoffs, today would be a great time to do it

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Short game and Kameron Wimbley jumped out at me immediately.

We want to march down the field, taking everything the Titans give us. Throw the deep ball on the first play to get it out of our system and to make the Titans think about it. I'll take "dink and dunks" all day long if we move down the field and score.

Luck doesn't need to keep getting hit. If Wimbley gets to Luck early then change the play calling immediately.

GO COLTS!

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