Sunday night football is basically an extra week of playoffs for us this week. In an AFC South divisional matchup, it is the Indianapolis Colts (9-6) traveling to Nissan Stadium to take on the Tennessee Titans (9-6). Win and you are in. It is as simple as that.
For the Colts, they have been clicking at the right time. They have won 8 of their last 9 games and have won 3 in a row heading into Sunday’s contest. 2 of those wins were against the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys, so it isn’t like they have been playing week competition, either. For the Titans, they have won 4 in a row, but last week’s win came at a price. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had to leave the game after suffering a stinger. He has practiced this week, but in limited capacity and is considered a game-time decision. If he is unable to go, it will be Blaine Gabbert taking the reigns. Due to the significance of this game, the NFL has flexed it to the evening game with kickoff scheduled for 8:20 pm ET.
The point spread for this one comes in with the Indianapolis Colts as 3-point favorites despite playing on the road. The over/under on total points scored is set at 44 points.
By The Numbers
Defensively, the Tennessee Titans get the slight edge in this matchup. Tennessee ranks 7th in the NFL in total yards allowed as opposing offenses are gaining just 326.5 yards per game. The Colts come in at 11th allowing 344.9 yards. In terms of points allowed per game, the Titans come in 2nd in the league, allowing just 18 points per game. The Colts come in at 13th allowing 21.8.
On the offensive side, though, the Colts have been significantly better. They are gaining an average of 382.9 yards per game, good for 7th in the NFL. The Titans, on the other hand, are gaining just 316 yards per game, good for 26th. This is reflective in their scoring ability, too. The Colts again rank 7th, averaging 26.7 points per game while the Titans rank 26th, scoring just 19.5 points per game.
Colts Hoping For Some Good Luck
After a few off years, Andrew Luck is finally looking like the star that broke into the league. On the season, he has 4,308 yards passing with 36 touchdowns versus 14 interceptions. His offensive line has also done a nice job keeping him upright as he has only 17 sacks. His leading receivers this season have been T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. Hilton has 74 catches for 1,209 yards and 6 touchdowns while Ebron has 62 catches for 690 yards and 12 touchdowns.
On the ground, Marlon Mack has certainly broken out this season. He has 170 carries for 789 yards and 8 touchdowns. Not bad, especially knowing that he battled some nagging injuries earlier in the season. The change of pace back is Nyheim Hines, who has 310 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns, but also has 400 yards receiving with an additional 2 touchdowns.
Defensively, the stat leaders for the Colts are Darius Leonard (107 tackles), Denico Autry (9 sacks) and both Kenny Moore and Malik Hooker (2 interceptions apiece).
Titans Hoping Ground Game Can Generate Offense
Especially if Marcus Mariota is unable to go, the Titans will hope that running back Derrick Henry continues to show his late-season surge. Over the last several weeks Henry has been dominant, and on the season, he has 966 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns. As a change of pace, Dion Lewis has 517 yards rushing with a touchdown and another 377 yards receiving with an additional touchdown.
Mariota on the season has thrown for 2,528 yards with 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also has struggled to avoid pass rushers has he has been sacked a whopping 42 times this year. If he is unable to go, it will be Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. This season he has thrown for 461 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The leading receiver for the Titans is Corey Davis with 843 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns.
Defensively, the stat leaders for the Titans are Adoree’ Jackson (63 tackles), Jurrell Casey (7 sacks) and Kevin Byard (4 interceptions).
Colts Win and Cover To Secure Playoff Berth
If the Titans are to have a chance two things have to happen. First, their defense has to be amazing. They also have to have Derrick Henry go off. While Henry may have success, I just don’t see them completely containing the Colts’ offense. Stranger things have happened, but for my money I feel a lot more comfortable with the Colts giving up 3 on the road than taking the gamble on a miraculous game from the Titans. I am taking the Colts and, to me, it really isn’t that close.