The Tennessee Titans (3-12) will travel to the Midwest as they take on the Indianapolis Colts (7-8) in an AFC South matchup Sunday afternoon to close a regular season that didn’t go as planned for either team. Indianapolis has won eight straight meetings between the teams, including a 35-33 road win back in week 3. The Titans covered the line in that game as a 3 point underdog.
Tennessee is still in line for the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft as they lost their third straight and sixth in the last seven games with a 34-6 pasting by the Texans at home. Indianapolis has to win here and get a Houston loss to Jacksonville to reach the playoffs as AFC South champs; they snapped a three game skid with an 18-12 win over Miami on the road. Kickoff from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana is scheduled for 1:00 pm and will be televised on CBS. There currently is no over/under or point spread set on this contest due to injury issues.
The Titans are 24th in the league in passing offense (227.3 yards) and currently stand 28th in the league in rushing offense (89.9 yards per game) on the year. Tennessee is 29th in the league with an average of 18.3 points per game but they are just 27th in scoring defense by allowing 26.2 points per contest. Clearly, the Titans have had issues on both sides of the ball.
Marcus Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy last season for Oregon, is starting for the Titans at quarterback. He’s completed 230 of 370 passes for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 picks while getting sacked 38 times; he’s added 252 yards plus two scores on the ground. He missed time earlier this season with a knee sprain. He suffered another knee injury and is finished for the year. Zach Mettenberger (96 of 153, 897 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT) is the backup to Mariota; he started against the Falcons and the Texans. Bishop Sankey is the fourth leading rusher for Tennessee with 43 carries for 177 yards and a score while Dexter McCluster has 55 carries for 247 yards plus a score; Antonio Andrews contributes 143 carries for 520 yards and three scores. Kendall Wright is second on the team with 36 catches for 408 yards and three scores while tight end Delanie Walker has a team high 85 grabs for 994 yards and six scores. McCluster has 31 grabs out of the backfield while Justin Hunter (22 receptions, 264 yards, TD) and Anthony Fasano (26 grabs, 289 yards, 2 TD) are other targets in the passing game. Dorial Green-Beckham (30 receptions, 528 yards, 3 TD) has come on in the second half of the year. Ryan Succop has booted 26 of 28 extra points and 13 of his 15 field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards.
The Colts are currently 21st in the league in passing offense with 233.6 yards per game and are third worst in the league in rushing offense with 87.4 yards per game. Indianapolis is putting up 20.2 points per game, which is 25th in the league, and they are 26th in scoring defense by allowing 25.6 points per game.
Andrew Luck has completed 162 of 293 passes for 1,881 yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while getting sacked 15 times. Luck is currently out as he recovers from a lacerated kidney and a torn abdominal muscle. Matt Hasselbeck is 156 of 256 for 1,690 yards with nine touchdowns and five picks in his action. He’s doubtful with a shoulder injury and with Charlie Whitehurst (16 of 32, 150 yards, INT) on injured reserve, it could be you under center Sunday. As it stands, Chuck Pagano will have to choose between Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley. Frank Gore leads the team with 241 carries for 891 yards and six scores; Luck contributes 196 yards while Ahmad Bradshaw has 85 yards plus a score on the ground since being signed. T.Y. Hilton leads the team with 65 catches for 1,080 yards and five scores; Donte Moncrief (63 receptions, 735 yards, 6 TD) and Coby Fleener (47 grabs, 403 yards, 2 TD) are solid targets as well. Adam Vinatieri is 29 of 32 on extra points and 22 of 24 on field goal attempts this season with a long of 55 yards.
Indianapolis is 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up win, 21-6 ATS in their last 27 against teams with a losing record and 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 against the AFC South. Tennessee is 1-4-1 ATS in their last six in January, 1-5 ATS in their last six on the road, 1-6 ATS in their last seven on fieldturf, 3-20-3 ATS in their last 26 against the AFC South, 1-8-2 ATS in their last 11 after allowing more than 30 points and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five after an ATS loss.
This one is going to be a potential low scoring dogfight with the Titans playing out the string and the Colts playing with a quarterback that hasn’t taken a snap for them all season. The difference is that the Colts still have something to play for while Tennessee is in line for the top pick next year to add another building block as they retool the franchise. It’s a shaky call but if you’re going to take a side in this one, go with the Colts.