Though the Indianapolis Colts have been struggling for the past few weeks, they need to get back on track against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. Peyton Manning has thrown eleven interceptions and wasn’t his old self, but the Colts are still in the playoff-race as they trail one game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 6-6 record. If Indianapolis wins this game and beats Jacksonville at home a week later, they lead the division, actually. But it starts out against Tennessee, and that’s where Manning has to get back on track.
“It’s pretty simple. All we have to do is look at what we do at this time of year,” Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell said. “We have to be able to string four together in order to get that done. I don’t think there’s anything more plain than that.”
Surprisingly, it’s still possible for the Titans to make the playoffs, as they can win the rest of the games for the season, but they need some teams lose for the next four weeks. The Titans started out strong, leading the AFC South with a 5-2 record, but with the problems between Vince Young and Jeff Fisher and more helped to the five-game losing-streak, and that is still counting.
“We can’t lick our wounds for too long,” defensive tackle Jovan Haye said after Sunday’s 17-6 loss to Jacksonville. “We’ve got the Colts on Thursday. Five-game losing streak. The only way to stop the bleeding is to win the game.”
Manning has played great against the Titans in his last three, with five touchdowns and only one interception. The main key for a win is to not commit turnovers and for the defense to make them to give the ball to the offense. But it is going to be hard, with Kelvin Hayden out and Jerraud Powers. Bob Sanders was also recently placed on injured-reserve yesterday.
To help the lack of run-support and to improve the passing game, Indianapolis gave Dominic Rhodes a third shot with the Colts. He has played great for the franchise and will really help out with the injuries to Joseph Addai, Mike Hart, and Donald Brown.
The Titans are good at getting interceptions, tied for eighth in the league with 15 of them. Manning needs to be careful against this secondary.
“I don’t make any excuses,” said Manning, who also has passed for eight touchdowns in the last three games. “I’m continuing to throw, I’ll keep throwing. I hope I throw it to our guys.”
Manning has to pass all the time, as the offensive line shows no support whatsoever. Addai has been gone since mid-October, and he’ll most likely be back for the most important game of the regular season, which are against the Jags. Manning could be going on to throw the most pass-attempts in NFL history for a regular season.
“Obviously, we have to throw to move the ball right now,” Manning said. “I think we know that right now. When we do move it, that’s how we’re doing it.”
But Rhodes will definitely help out. The big keys to winning are just two: don’t turnover the ball on offense and shut down Chris Johnson. With that, the Colts can win. I think they will as they advance to 7-6, and a showdown between the Jags will come up next week, as Indianapolis hosts them with full-confidence.