Here are the five keys to victory for the Tennessee Titans in Monday night’s AFC South matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
1. Run, run and run some more. Whether Marcus Mariota plays or not – and right now signs seem to point to him playing – the Titans have to do a better job of running the football with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry than they did last week in Miami, when they had just 69 yards on the ground.
2. Forget the streak. The Titans have lost 11 in a row to the Colts and have not won since 2011 against them, when the immortal Curtis Painter was at the helm for Indy. The Titans have to block out the past and must keep their resolve if things begin to look bleak at any point in the game. A few times in recent years, the Titans have had leads against Indy, only to come up short.
3. Pressure Jacoby Brissett. The Titans pass rush has been spotty thus far this season. Brian Orakpo has just one sack, but maintains that sacks will come. Brissett has been OK as a fill-in for Andrew Luck and has some mobility. But the Titans need to keep the heat on him not only to protect their secondary, but also to try and create some mistakes from the young QB.
4. Get a big play on special teams. The Titans have been waiting for a big play on special teams – one that actually counts. Adoree’ Jackson has had several good returns, and had one for a TD that was called back by a penalty. The Titans need one of those explosive plays to jumpstart a sluggish offense. And more importantly, they can’t afford to give up one.
5. Rediscover Delanie Walker. Walker was pretty much missing in action in the offense last week after his touchdown catch was nullified by an offensive pass interference call against Jonnu Smith. For some reason, the Titans didn’t keep him incorporated into the game plan after that. Whether Mariota or Matt Cassel is under center, the Titans need to target Walker at least eight times Monday night to get him in the flow and keep him thre.