Through the first quarter of the NFL season, the Tennessee Titans were one of the surprise teams of 2013. Since then, though, it has all been downhill. On "Thursday Night Football," they’ll try to right the ship against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11.
The Titans have all but negated their fast 3-1 start by losing four of their last five games. Their poor play culminated with the biggest upset of the season on Sunday when they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was Jacksonville’s first win of the year. Prior to the contest, the Jaguars hadn’t even lost a game by less than double digits.
Some of Tennessee’s’ key players have completely fallen off since the end of September. Chris Johnson is on pace to miss the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his six-year career. Other than a 150-yard performance in a win against the St. Louis Rams in Week Nine, he hasn’t broken 40 yards since Week Three.
If Johnson is ever going to have another big game this year, his best chance might be for it to come against Indianapolis. The Colts are 26th in the league, allowing 126.6 rushing yards per game. However, it didn’t help him last week, facing the worst rush defense in football.
Tennessee’s quarterback situation is an issue as well. Jake Locker, who’s battled injuries this season, was officially lost for the year on Sunday because of a Lisfranc injury. In his place, Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start. The veteran has registered a 76.0 passer rating in 2013, and the team is 1-3 in games that he’s played. Fizpatrick has thrown one touchdown and four interceptions in his two starts.
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"He's going to be the starting quarterback from now on because Jake is out for the year, so Ryan has no choice but to play (well),” tight end Delaine Walker said. “I feel like he did a great job against the Jaguars. This is his opportunity to be the man now."
Despite their struggles, the Titans can draw themselves to within one game of first place with a win on Thursday. The Colts looked like they would run away with the AFC South, but they have split their last four contests. In Week 10, they suffered one of the most embarrassing losses by any team this season. At home, they lost to the Rams by 30 in a game that saw them enter the game at close to 10-point favorites.
"I think all we want is to never play like that again," tight end Coby Fleener said. "The feeling after that game was just disgust."
Player To Watch: Chris Johnson
TIME: 8:25 p.m. Thursday
PLACE: LP Field
TV: NFL Network
Online Stream: nfl.com/tnf
Updated Betting Odds: Colts by 3
Prediction: Colts over Titans, 27-13