Six Things to Watch in Titans vs. Colts on Sunday


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here's a look at six things to watch:

Mariota's Hot Streak

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has turned things up a few notches. In wins over the Cowboys and Patriots, Mariota completed 37-of-53 passes (69.9 %) for 468 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 122.2 passer rating. Mariota has 290-plus yards in two of his past three games vs. the Colts. The Titans need Mariota to stay hot, but he'll need some help from his targets, including receiver Corey Davis, who is coming off a monstrous game.

End the (Bad) Luck

Coach Mike Vrabel didn't beat around the bush – he told his football team this week that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is 9-0 against the Titans. None of those games matter going into this Sunday's contest, of course. Tennessee's challenge is to find a way to fluster Luck, something recent opponents haven't been able to do. Luck has thrown 26 TDs vs only 9 INTs. He hasn't been sacked in the past four games. The Titans made life miserable for Patriots QB Tom Brady on Sunday. Can they do the same to Luck?

Run the Ball

Dion Lewis has been the team's most productive back this season, and the Titans will need him on Sunday. But let's not forget how much success bruising running back Derrick Henry has had vs. the Colts in his career. Henry ran for 131 yards and a touchdown in a Week 6 win vs. the Colts last season, and he racked up 79 yards in the second meeting. He averaged six-plus yards per carry in two games vs. Indy last season. The Titans would like to establish the run vs. the Colts, no matter who is toting the rock.

The Tight Ends

Titans tight end Jonnu Smith has emerged in recent weeks. Smith has touchdowns in back-to-back games, and he's playing like a guy with renewed confidence. The Titans hope he'll keep it up. But the defense faces a big challenge on the other side of the ball in Colts tight end Eric Ebron. Not only does Ebron lead the team in catches (39) and receiving yards (463), but he also has nine touchdown catches. Then there's Colts tight end Jack Doyle, who is back after an injury and making plays again himself. The Titans have done a nice job vs. opposing tight ends this year, and they'll need to defend the position well again.

Special Teams

The Titans are ranked No.1 in the NFL in kickoff returns, on the strength of a 35.9-yard average from return man Darius Jennings. Return man Adoree' Jackson has also performed well returning punts, and helped field position, while kicker Ryan Succop and punter Brett Kern have been effective. Jennings gave the Titans a spark on the opening kickoff vs. the Patriots, and in a game vs. an AFC South where the teams know each other so well, a big play on special teams could be the difference.

Third Down Efficiency

Dating back to Week 7's matchup against the Chargers, the Titans have shown great improvement on offense. One of the big reasons has been the team's success on third down. Since Week 7, the Titans offense has converted 25 of its 41 attempts on third down for a league-leading rate of 61.0 percent. The Colts, meanwhile, have been nearly as effective as the Titans on third down – they are third in the NFL at 59.5 percent since Week 7. How well each team performs on third down could play a big part in the final outcome. looks back at the all-time series with the Indianapolis Colts. (AP Photos)

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