Titans look to build momentum against Colts
Last year's Tennessee Titans showed they could beat any team in the NFL. They rallied to beat the previous year's Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia, in overtime and then pounded eventual champion New England in mid-November.
But Tennessee also showed it could lose to anyone. For instance, it followed up beating the Eagles with a brutal road loss to Buffalo. That defeat helped keep it out of the AFC playoffs at season's end despite a third straight 9-7 mark.
So the task for the Titans (1-0) on Sunday when they host the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville is two-fold: Validate an emphatic season-opening 43-13 win last week in Cleveland and put a fellow AFC South rival two games behind them right away.
Tennessee was impressive across the board against the highly hyped Browns, but its biggest strength was its defense. After ceding a touchdown on Cleveland's first possession, it only allowed one more for the game's remainder and picked off three Baker Mayfield passes in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis coach Frank Reich refers to the scheme of Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees as a Rolodex defense.
"Their defense ranks high on the exotic scale," Reich said. "He's calling something different on every play. It's like he's dialing up the next card, the next call. And they do it well. And so that's part of their DNA; that's what they've been."
New outside linebacker Cameron Wake found his way into the backfield all day against the Browns, finishing with 2 ½ sacks and surpassing the 100-sack mark for his career. The former Miami Dolphin was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
"It was a crazy offseason, but I think I landed in the right place," he said. "This organization has welcomed me with open arms and obviously I want to do my part along with the guys up front."
Wake will chase Jacoby Brissett around this week. In his first start since the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck on Aug. 24, Brissett hit 21 of 27 passes for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 30-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.
While Luck was one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, the feeling is that Brissett is a more than capable caretaker.
"He's played in big games, whether that be in New England or Indianapolis," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the former Patriots' backup. "He was very efficient with the football last week. He's got a strong arm, he can scramble, he can move, so he's able to run whatever they need him to."
It doesn't hurt Brissett that Marlon Mack is becoming one of the most dangerous running backs in the NFL. Mack carved up Los Angeles' suspect run defense for 174 yards on 25 carries last week, and his presence will force any defense to respect a play fake.
Both teams figure to enter this game in good health. Wake and tight end Delanie Walker (non-injury related) were held out of practice Wednesday but figure to play, while the Colts hope to have defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) back after he missed the opener.
--Field Level Media
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