NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Indianapolis Colts are coming off a blowout loss and looking for the relief their first win of the season would bring. The Tennessee Titans are ticked off, upset and embarrassed by a two-game skid that includes their most lopsided defeat since moving into their stadium in 1999.
Two teams used to fighting for the top of the AFC South simply want a victory today to show that they're not that bad.
"You have to prove that wasn't you," Titans coach Mike Munchak said of losing to Pittsburgh and Houston by a combined score of 79-24. "It starts to become a pattern when you lose two games in a row by large scores. We have to make that go away, we have to erase that memory and just worry about us and doing our jobs in our building. I know that we believe in what we can do, and that is all that really matters right now."
A challenging season without Peyton Manning turned uglier for the Colts (0-7) with a 62-7 loss to the Saints last week. Colts center Jeff Saturday said motivation isn't a problem, not against Tennessee, the only team other than Indianapolis to win the AFC South.
"We have had some great battles, and I have a ton of respect for the way they play football and we have had some great games over the years," Saturday said. "Motivation wouldn't have been an issue regardless, but coming off of a (62-7) whipping, you can't wait to get back on the field and try to get some redemption."
The Titans (3-3) were booed by their home fans during last week's 41-7 loss to Houston in which Tennessee lost the divisional lead. The run game that has been a staple of this franchise since 1996 still ranks last in the NFL, averaging a meager 64.3 yards per game, and critics are targeting Chris Johnson, after his preseason holdout and $53 million contract extension, as the cause.
"We're having a tough year, he's having a tough year, they're having a tough year," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "He's definitely a tough challenge for us because he can take it to the end zone at any given time."
Tennessee hopes to get Johnson running early and often against an Indianapolis defense giving up 150.9 yards per game, 31st in the NFL.
Munchak has warned his Titans against taking the Colts' winless mark as a sign that Indianapolis hasn't been competitive. He argues the Colts easily could be 5-2 with just a few plays.
The Colts have won five straight in this series, but they swept last season's games by a combined five points against a Tennessee team that finished 6-10.
Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan named tight end Dallas Clark, receivers Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, along with rookie running back Delone Carter as reasons the Colts remain explosive on offense. Carter ran for a career-best 89 yards against New Orleans. Finnegan said the Titans have to give their fans something to cheer about again.
"We've just got to win," Finnegan said. "Whoever rolled in here, if the Titan Blue Bells rolled in here, didn't matter. We've got to win. We've got to get back to Titan football, and that's defense and then scoring points."
Indianapolis ranks 30th in total offense with 280 yards per game, but the Colts have been intercepted only three times this season. Saturday said that quarterback Curtis Painter is getting more comfortable each week and has done enough to give the Colts chances to win.
"We just got to get a win for him," Saturday said.
Painter took over when veteran Kerry Collins, signed out of retirement after five years with the Titans, suffered a concussion. Collins was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.