The Indianapolis Colts head back into divisional play after a Week Three victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts’ defense (and special teams) secured two turnovers after having only one in Week One and zero in Week Two. Could this be the opening of the turnover flood gates for the Colts’ defense?
Week Four is upon us and the Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1) fresh off a key victory over the Kansas City Chiefs look to keep rolling as the Tennessee Titans (1-2) come to town. (Both the Colts and the Titans found pay dirt at the expense of the AFC West.) This is another marquee divisional matchup for the Colts, who have already played the Texans and Jaguars. Both teams are looking to continue rolling. Here are my bold predictions for the Week Four matchup.
Colts Defense Will Hold Derrick Henry In Check
Through three weeks Titans’ running back Derrick Henry is averaging 3.6 yards per carry on 54 carries for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Henry had 20 carries for 85 yards and one touchdown game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Over his career, Henry has been matched up against the Colts 12 times. Of those 12 times, Henry has rushed for over 100 yards five times. (Last September, Henry carried the ball 28 times for 113 yards.)
.@Colts run defense through 3 games: 1st in rush yards/play: 2.6 1st in EPA/play (-.405) 1st in TFLs + no gain (23) 1st in run stops (58) 1st in avg. depth of tackle (2.08) League-wide so far, rushing has been almost as efficient as passing. Stopping the run matters. — JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 28, 2022
This season, the Colts are third in rushing defense behind the Jacksonville Jaguars (first) and the Buffalo Bills (second). The Colts are only allowing an average of 77 rushing yards per game and have given up only two rushing touchdowns in three games. Defensive Tackle Grover Stewart has been a huge part of the puzzle in why the Colts’ run defense has been so stout. According to Pro Football Focus, Stewart is the second-rated defensive tackle (subscription needed) with 40 or more run defense snaps (83.9). Stewart has accumulated nine tackles with an average depth of tackle being 0.4 yards. Watch Grover Stewart blow up the Chiefs run on their one yard line:
#90 Grover Stewart has been playing like one of the best run defenders in the NFL so far in 2022 pic.twitter.com/W5pzXtfrRm — Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 26, 2022
This season, the Titans also had to replace three of their starting offensive linemen. Right tackle Kendall Lamm joined the Detroit Lions this offseason, guard Rodger Saffold is currently with the Buffalo Bills, and starting left tackle Taylor Lewan will miss the remainder of the season with a new injury. Rookie right tackle Nicholas Petit-Ferer has replaced Kendall Lamm, guard Aaron Brewer replaced Saffold, and tackle Dennis Daley has replaced Taylor Lewan. Overall, Tennessee is ranked 21st in rushing this season. With Indianapolis’s rushing defense trending in a great direction, my bold prediction is that the Colts hold Derrick Henry under 100 yards rushing while also averaging 2.9-3.2 yards per carry.
Colts Force Three Turnovers
Through 17 games last season, Indianapolis forced a total of 33 turnovers (including six through the first three weeks). Through three games this season, Indianapolis has been on the opposite end – turning the ball over six times while only forcing three turnovers. In my opinion, Week Four is where this changes.
While Indianapolis and Tennessee are tied with six turnovers and three takeaways, I am predicting that the Colts’ defense builds off their Week Three performance and the turnover floodgates burst open. Last season against Tennessee, Indianapolis’s defense forced five total turnovers (4 interceptions, 1 fumble).
.@dharm32 got what he wanted 😤 INT! 📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/6bvlWH3QJd — Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 25, 2022
Through three weeks, Ryan Tannehill has thrown three interceptions. He threw two against the Bills in Week Two and one against the Raiders last week. While Tannehill is an athletic quarterback, he tends to be kind of loose with the ball. Looking back to their 2021 playoff game against the Bengals, Tannehill opened up the game throwing an interception and ended the game with an interception. (He threw a total of three interceptions that game.)
Last week against the Chiefs, Gus Bradley was able to mix and match coverages and added cornerback Isaiah Rodgers into the lineup to throw the Chiefs off. Gus Bradley threw in some wrinkles we have not seen from him this season: Cover 1 Robber, Cover 2, Cover 4, 2-Man, and some Zone Blitzes. If Gus Bradley keeps this game plan going into week four, I predict the defense will force Ryan Tannehill into three turnovers this game (2 interceptions and 1 fumble).
Colts’ Matt Ryan Has Breakout Game
Matt Ryan’s stint with the Colts has been up and down to say the least. Not all of that is his fault: play-calling, inconsistency, and communication on the offensive line has led to Ryan being sacked 12 times (two at the Texans, 5 at the Jaguars, and 5 against Chiefs). While Matt Ryan is averaging 39 passing attempts and 256.3 yards passing per game, he has also thrown four interceptions and had seven fumbles (five of seven fumbles have been recovered by Indianapolis).
Check those numbers. 👀 pic.twitter.com/qndSSJ0fva — Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 29, 2022
My bold prediction this week is that Matt Ryan has his first breakout game and reiterates why Chris Ballard and Frank Reich were comfortable bringing him in after moving on from Carson Wentz this past offseason. The offensive line has had three weeks of playing together and should be working towards cohesion and giving Matt Ryan some time to go through his progressions and getting the ball into his playmakers’ hands.
I believe Tennessee will try to stack the box and take away the run, forcing Matt Ryan to make plays with his arm. With the rapport wide receivers Michael Pittman, Jr and Alec Pierce have started to build with Matt, I believe he will go to them early and often. (Pierce caught three of his five targets for 61 yards, and Pittman caught eight of his nine targets for 77 yards.) Ryan is gaining trust in the young receivers, and I believe he uses them to breakout this game. Matt Ryan will throw for 350 yards, toss three touchdowns and have zero turnovers against Tennessee. Indianapolis wins 24-17.
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