Date: Sunday, October 23, 2016
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET (10:00 a.m. PT)
Location: Nashville, TN
TV Channel: CBS
After an epic meltdown against the Houston Texans, the 2-4 Indianapolis Colts travel to Nashville to take on the 3-3 Tennessee Titans.
The Colts fell to the bottom of the AFC South division following their 26-23 overtime loss. The defeat was excruciatingly painful because Indianapolis held a 14-point lead with 5:17 left in the game. However, the team found a way to gaff that lead away in less than five minutes.
On the flip side, the Tennessee enters Sunday’s contest with momentum. They are riding a two-game win streak thanks to their 28-26 win over the Cleveland Browns this past weekend. If the Titans win Sunday, they would have a record over .500 for the first time since Week 5 of 2013.
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The Colts currently hold a nine-game win streak over the Titans. Tennessee has not beaten Indianapolis since Week 8 of the 2011 season. The Colts need to rekindle that magic if they want any shot at beating the Titans this time around.
The lone bright spot for the Colts is still quarterback Andrew Luck. He has thrown for 1,721 passing yards (262.3 per game), 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Unfortunately, his team’s sweltering issues have overshadowed his decent season.
The Colts have been called “soft” by media members, head coach Chuck Pagano thinks they lack a “killer instinct,” and everyone is clamoring for front office people to lose their jobs.
Meanwhile, things are going pretty well for the Titans. Their quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown for 1,372 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. He has also gotten plenty of assistance from running back DeMarco Murray, who is fourth in NFL in rushing yards with 526.
The issue for Tennessee is turnovers. In particular, Mariota has been prone to turnovers. He has thrown six interceptions and lost two fumbles so far this season. He is working on protecting the ball better, but it is still a work in progress.
The good news for Tennessee is Indianapolis is not great at forcing turnovers. The Colts have only forced six turnovers (two INTs and four fumbles) this year. They are also 28th in the league in sacks so Mariota is not going to be pressured into bad throws often.
The gameplan for the Colts is relatively simple. They are going to rely on Luck to carry the bulk of the load on offense. They will get additional support from Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton, but no one else can be, should be, counted on; unless Donte Moncrief returns this weekend.
On defense, the Colts are horrendous. They are 28th in points allowed (29.0 per game) and 30th in total yards allowed (411.2 per game). The defense is not going to stop the Titans on a consistent basis, so it has to capitalize on interceptions, fumbles and third down stops whenever it can.
As for the Titans, they are going to rely on their ground game. Again, Murray is one of the top running backs in the NFL. He will be a handful for the Colts’ defense, which surrenders 117.7 rush yards per game on average.
Third downs will be important for the Titan’s offense as well. They are 43.6 % on third down conversions (6th in the NFL). The Colts’ defense has allowed a league-high 143 first downs this season, and 38.7% of those have come on third down plays. Tennessee will dominate if they continuous convert third downs.
It is another division game so bizarre things are bound to happen. Hopefully, those unexplainable plays go the Colts’ way this week because it clearly did not go their way last week.
Most Vegas oddsmakers list the Titans as a three-point favorite at home. Basically, Vegas feels these teams are evenly matched, but the Titans have the edge because of home field advantage.
Unfortunately, the reality is the Titans are the better team. They are trending upwards while the Colts are spiraling out of control. This will be a close game at the end because that is the only constant of the Colts’ season so far. However, the Titans will be the victors.
Prediction: Titans 27, Colts 23