Game Overview ::
- This will be the second meeting between these two teams in a calendar month. NFL scheduling, figure this out.
- Jonathan Taylor returned to a limited practice on Wednesday while Nyheim Hines was a full-go.
- The Colts have been at or below league average in pass rate over expectation (PROE) in every game, but last week’s victory over the Jaguars was played without both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.
- The Titans have been at or below league average in PROE in every game this year.
- The winner of this game takes control of the AFC South approaching the midpoint of the season.
- The Titans have laughably scored only 14 second-half points all season.
How Indianapolis Will Try To Win ::
The Colts look dynamic on paper with an average of 42.2 pass attempts per game, but the context is lost in translation with the team averaging the third most plays per game this season at 69.5. They ran 92 offensive plays in a Week 1 overtime draw (shoutout to my OWS fam across the pond), ran 81 offensive plays last week against a Jaguars team that ran for multiple splash plays, and ran 79 offensive plays in an overtime win in Week 5 against the hapless Broncos. In their other three games, they averaged 61.67 plays per game, including 66 against these same Titans. Their 65.71% pass play rate tells more of a routinely negative game script than it does of the intention of this offense (as pointed out above, they have been at or below league average in PROE in every game but last week’s win, when they played without both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines). For further context, the last time these two teams played, the Colts fell into a 24-3 hole midway through the second quarter and still finished with only 66 offensive plays run from scrimmage including six punts, with 37 pass attempts due to the extremely negative game script. As in, nothing has truly changed with how this team wants to try and win games, rather it’s much more likely the changing dynamics have been largely due to injuries in the backfield paired with two overtime games and largely negative game environments.
It appears likely the team will get back both of its top running backs, with Jonathan Taylor getting in a limited session on Wednesday after reportedly being close to playing in Week 6, and Nyheim Hines being cleared through the concussion protocol. There is a possibility we see Taylor’s workload scaled back a bit in his first game back from multiple missed games due to an ankle injury, but the norm for this team has been to have Taylor operating in a 75%+ snap share and workload share role, with Nyheim Hines reserved for change of pace and obvious passing down duties. The Colts also utilized the tandem on the field together a non-negligible 12.25% of snaps through four weeks before Taylor got hurt. Taylor’s season average places him at 20 carries and four targets per game, which should be considered the starting point from which to deviate if we get any news on a potential snap count due to his injury. Anything leftover should be left to Hines, with Deon Jackson likely relegated to a pure reserve role after playing only two offensive snaps through the first four games. The matchup on the ground yields a putrid 3.98 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Titans defense yielding 4.67 yards per carry to opposing backfields this season.
I’ve talked a lot about Michael Pittman’s non-elite 24.1% targets per route run rate and non-elite 24.4% team target market share this year, with his two blowup games coming in games the Colts ran 92 and 81 offensive plays from scrimmage. Pittman has failed to surpass 15.2 fantasy points in his three other fully healthy games this season and is now the fourth highest priced wide receiver on the slate. He and Parris Campbell found themselves playing nearly every offensive snap each of the last two weeks with Taylor and Hines out, with Campbell maxing out at an 82% snap rate over the first four weeks. It is likelier than not that we see the offense shift back towards a heavy run-based offense this week with their main two backs healthy, which should slightly dent Parris’ expected snap rate in order to fit more 12-personnel alignments. Expect Alec Pierce to play as many snaps as the 12-personnel rates will allow, likely at the direct detriment of Mike Strachan with Ashton Dulin on IR. The Titans can really be beaten in whichever way having allowed 11.8 yards per completion this season. It’s more of a matter of how the Colts choose to attack here.