Peyton Manning’s not been great on deep balls this year.
That makes sense. With less threatening targets on the field because of injuries, defenses have been able to key on containing Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, and Manning’s not often had a lot of time for downfield plays to develop.
The Titans have been a big exception.
On throws of 15 yards or more, Manning’s connected on 34.6 percent of his passes. But in the Colts’ win in Nashville on Dec. 9 he was five-for-five.
In Tennessee’s past three games against Manning, the Titans have fared poorly defending throws of 15-plus yards.
They’ve allowed a completion percentage of 84.6 (as opposed to 47.8 against everyone else), 24.9 yards per attempt (compared to 13.1) and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for Manning (as opposed to 82.6).
The Tennessee secondary was ineffective last week against Matt Cassel and Kansas City.
To have a chance of an upset in Indianapolis, the defensive backs will have to be a lot better, the linebackers will have to contribute more than they usually do in pass defense, and the rush will have to get Manning off his spot and make him hurry.