After a surprising 0-2 start to the season, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts head to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans Sunday.
The Colts looked like anything but a Super Bowl team in their Monday night loss to the New York Jets, with Luck throwing three interceptions and fumbling once as part of a five-turnover game from the team.
The Titans came back to earth last week after a dominating Week 1 performance, losing on the road to the Cleveland Browns. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked seven times.
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Here are three keys to the game for both the Colts and Titans.
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1. Give Luck time to work
The Colts have turned the ball over a league-high eight times. Luck's talent is unquestioned, despite what sounded like some criticism from head coach Chuck Pagano following the loss to the Jets, but he can't do it alone. What he needs from the Colts' inconsistent offensive line is time and confidence to operate. When he has it, it's clear what the three-time Pro Bowler can do.
2. Don't forget about Fleener
Through two games, tight end Coby Fleener has one catch for five yards. That's a long way from last season, when he caught eight touchdown passes and had 774 yards receiving. Yes, the Colts are in a bit of disarray offensively, but part of the solution lies in Luck getting the ball to his playmakers. Fleener needs to be more involved.
3. Bring the heat
The Titans will be without starting right guard Chance Warmack, who injured his knee against the Brown. Based on their subpar performance last week, which saw Mariota get hit 11 times, the Tennessee offensive line may once again be suscepitble to pressure. Sunday would be a good time to see what Robert Mathis can do as he eases his way back into the lineup.
1. Protect Mariota like the season depends on it
No matter how tough he is, Mariota isn't likely to last long if he continues to take beatings like the one he absorbed last week in Cleveland. The Titans need to figure out a way to protect their franchise quarterback. Everyone, from rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, who admitted he struggled last week, to left tackle Taylor Lewan needs to do a better job.
2. Watch the big plays
Against the Browns, the Titans' secondary allowed wide receiver Travis Benjamin to catch three passes for 115 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown reception. The Colts have a seemingly endless number of offensive weapons, including receivers T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. Tennessee needs to guard against getting torched again in the defensive backfield.
3. Keep on running
The Titans appear to be going with a running back by committee approach early in the season and it's working. Bishop Sankey got the bulk of the carries in Week 1, while Dexter McCluster ran for 98 yards against the Browns. The Titans need another big day from whoever head coach Ken Whisenhunt decides to feature in order to add necessary balance to the offense.