Indianapolis Colts: Winning on Sunday Will Come Down to Stopping Chris Johnson

By Eric Smith
Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

The outcome on Sunday between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans will be decided on one thing and one thing only. Can the Colts stop Titans running back Chris Johnson?

If the Colts can hold Johnson to below 50 yards they will win this game for sure. If they allow him to go off there’s no way Indianapolis will win.

The Titans struggled to start this season off. They lost four of their first five games and it was all due to the struggles by Johnson. In three of the four losses, Johnson failed to reach 25 yards and didn’t reach the end zone once. He averages less than two yards per carry in the Titans losses this season.

But, within the last few weeks things started clicking for the Titans. They won their last two games after and it’s all been due to the resurgence of Johnson and the running game. Johnson had 91 yards in the victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago then backed that up with a phenomenal 195 yard two touchdown game last week in Buffalo. He had all 195 yards on only 19 carries and scored his first two touchdowns of the year.

In fact, Johnson has had 90+ yards in three of the last four games including two games of 140+ yards. With a running game the playbook opens up for Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans and it allows them to control the clock. That’s a good thing due to their defense giving up the most points in the league and allowing 416 yards per game which ranks 30th.

When the Colts have struggled this year and lost it was due to the inabilities to stop the run. They gave up a career day to Shonn Greene just a few weeks ago in giving him three touchdowns and not showing any resistance to anything the Jets wanted to do.

They Colts are still banged up on defense as Cory Redding and Robert Mathis’ statuses are unknown for Sunday. The defense also has Dwight Freeney and Pat Angerer banged up as well and have a tall task in stopping the run with backups. If this was in Indianapolis I’d say it shouldn’t be a problem for the Colts. But, they struggle on the road for some reason to stop the run.

The inability to stop the run on the road has led to them being winless in the last 10 games away from Lucas Oil Stadium. The last win came on December 26th, 2010 when they had a good game plan and stopped the run.

Luckily for the Colts, they have had a great game plan in stopping Johnson in the past.

Johnson has only eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark twice against Indianapolis in his career and that came in 2010 in the 30-28 loss to the Colts in 2010 and in 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in a 27-17 loss. He’s failed to top 55 yards in four of the last five match-ups with Indianapolis and that’s the biggest reason to why the Titans have a career 2-5 record against the Colts in games Johnson has played.

The Titans don’t have too many big threats at receiver and Hasselbeck is no longer going to beat you. The Colts can stack the box and hope to force the Titans to many third and longs. If they can do this they will win on Sunday. The Titans have struggled to reach the end zone on the ground this year as like I said earlier Johnson only has two touchdowns this season. That matches his career total against the Colts. If that doesn’t change Indianapolis will come out on top Sunday.

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