Tennessee Titans Can Control Destiny on Thursday Night Football
Updated: Monday, November 11 2013, 05:33 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker is done for the season after suffering a Lisfranc inury, but the team's season is far from over. Yes, the loss to the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday was a missed opportunity.
With the Indianapolis Colts getting throttled by the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, a win could have set the Titans up to share the divisional lead when they face the Colts during Thursday Night Football (on Fox 17) this week. Instead, they remain two games behind.
While it's not all roses heading into the big game on Thursday, things are not as dire as they seem.
Here are some things which make this week's game pivotal and give reason for Titans' fans to be optimistic:
--A win does put the Titans one game back, but it would tie the Colts with a 4-3 conference record. Depending on how things shake out, that record could have an impact on the Titans playoff chances down the road. Should both teams finish with the same overall record, how each team performed in head-to-head and conference games could have a huge impact.
--A Thursday Night Football win would also put the Titans in position to take control of the division within three short weeks. After Thursday, the Titans face the (3-6) Oakland Raiders on Nov. 24th, before squaring off with the Colts once again. Indianapolis will face the (5-4) Arizona Cardinals in-between matchups, posing a much tougher test. Both games are on the road, but the Cards are on the rise while the Raiders are fizzing out.
--The Colts are ranked 26th against the run this season. They are allowing an average of 126 yards per game on the ground and have allowed 8 rushes of 20-plus yards this season, tying them for the fourth-most in the league. Think Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene aren't salivating at the opportunity? It also matches up well for Fitzpatrick, allowing the offense to lean on the running game instead of putting the burden on his shoulders.
--The Titans are strong against the pass. Allowing an average of just 211 yards per game, the Titans strength matches up well against Andrew Luck's wide receivers. Don't forget, this is also a team which no longer has Reggie Wayne to lean on. Luck has been sacked seven times the last two games, something which hasn't happened since the start of the season. The Colts have also scored just 35 points the last two games, a season-low over any two-game-stretch this year.
The argument one team is catching the other at the right time can be made from either side. Both teams are coming off tough losses and both teams are down a star player. The key will be ball control and defense, two things the Titans do well.