KRAVITZ: 5 keys to Sunday's Colts-Titans game

Bob Kravitz says a big day from Donte Moncrief could be one key for the Colts against the Titans on Sunday. (AP photo)
Bob Kravitz

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Here a five keys to Sunday's Colts-Titans game in Lucas Oil Stadium:

  • Don’t let Marcus Mariota beat you with his legs: The Colts got a huge break the last time these two teams met in Nashville with Mariota coming off a hamstring and forced to stay stationary in the pocket. No scrambling, no read option, no designed runs, nothing. And he still lit them up. This time, he will come into the game fully healthy, which means the Colts will have to do whatever it takes to keep him in the pocket and force him to beat them from there. Indy must be very disciplined with the way they rush the passer, and must be very assignment-savvy when Mariota is running the read-option.
  • Slow down the Tennessee running game. This hasn’t been an issue lately, with the Colts allowing just 80 yards per game on the ground in their last three games, and the Titans have struggled more than anybody expected this season. Still, they have Mariota, they have Derrick Henry and they have Demarco Murray, all of whom are capable of putting up big numbers on a given day. If Tennessee tries to go the smash-mouth approach, they won’t have any success. It’s the one area the Colts can call a strength, currently ranking 15th in the league after a slow start.
  • Take advantage of red-zone opportunities. The Colts rank dead last in the league in red-zone efficiency, scoring TD’s just 41.67 percent of the time. The Titans offensively are 12th, largely due to Mariota’s ability to run the football. Defensively, the Titans rank 23rd in red-zone defense, so they’re no great shakes in that department. In a game that figures to be close, scoring touchdowns as opposed to kicking field goals will be a huge factor.
  • Watch one big matchup, a matchup the Colts need to win if they’re going to win this game: Donte Moncrief against Tennessee cornerback LeShaun Sims. The Titans are strong at the cornerback spots – T.Y. Hilton had just one catch the previous time these two teams played – but Moncrief looks like a very good matchup for the Colts when they go with three-wide-receiver sets and the Titans go nickel. If the offensive line holds up – and that’s a very big if – there should be downfield opportunities for Moncrief, who is overdue for a breakout game.
  • Run the ball effectively, or just effectively enough to make the play-action passing game go. The best way to do that is to run away from Tennessee’s two defensive studs, Jurrell Casey and Wesley Woodyard.

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