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King's Corner
Ben Reiter
September 17, 2007
Lately the Titans have given the Super Bowl-champion Colts a better game than the Patriots have. Indianapolis has beaten fellow conference strong boy New England three straight but only split its last two meetings with Tennessee, which hasn't had a winning season since 2003. In losing to the Colts 14--13 in Week 5 last season and then beating them 20--17 eight weeks later, the Titans relied on a mashing running game—214 and 219 yards, respectively—and a physical pass defense that gives up the underneath stuff but not the home run.
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September 17, 2007

King's Corner

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Lately the Titans have given the Super Bowl-champion Colts a better game than the Patriots have. Indianapolis has beaten fellow conference strong boy New England three straight but only split its last two meetings with Tennessee, which hasn't had a winning season since 2003. In losing to the Colts 14--13 in Week 5 last season and then beating them 20--17 eight weeks later, the Titans relied on a mashing running game—214 and 219 yards, respectively—and a physical pass defense that gives up the underneath stuff but not the home run.

Nothing's the same from one year to the next in the NFL, however, and Tennessee may find that out when the two teams hook up again on Sunday in Nashville. Indy's run defense is much improved over last year's, with more speed and with upgrades at three positions: strong safety (Bob Sanders, healthy again), strongside linebacker ( Rob Morris) and corner (Marlin Jackson). The presence of the aggressive, sure-tackling Sanders enables defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to rush the passer hard even on running downs. The Colts held Saints backs Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister to a combined 76 rushing yards last Thursday. "That was scary," Tennessee offensive coordinator Norm Chow says. "I had to turn the TV off. It was making me sick."

Likewise, Indianapolis will throw new looks at the Titans' secondary. "When [the Colts] drafted Anthony Gonzalez this year, I figured he'd slide into the slot and they'd play mostly three-wide sets," Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says. "But they played [tight end] Dallas Clark in the slot a lot the first game, which makes them more multidimensional."

Still, Tennessee's offensive line is more physical than New Orleans's, so the Titans will be more patient and try to sustain the ground game. If they rush for 175 yards and bleed the clock with Chris Brown (above) and LenDale White, Indy will have a tougher time than expected getting to 2--0.

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