NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
The NFL doesn't pre-schedule a Sunday night game in Week 17 so NBC has the possibility of a theoretical winner-take-all matchup in terms of a postseason berth. It's obviously impossible to speculate on that when the schedule is made in April.
It doesn't always work out, either. Last year, for example, no game was flexed to the Sunday night window. The NFL can't have the Sunday night game damage the competitive balance of the earlier games or the other way around. So, if there's a game earlier in the day that would affect whether a potential night game would matter or not, it wouldn't be flexed into prime time.
We all got lucky this year as Colts-Titans is a winner-take-all as the loser's season is finished. The victor most likely will be the second AFC wild-card team - the Chargers should be the top wild-card club - and probably travel to division-rival Houston next weekend. However, should the Texans lose as around touchdown favorites at home in the 1 p.m. ET window vs. Jacksonville, the Colts-Titans winner takes the division and would host the Texans next weekend. The Colts could get a wild-card spot with a tie, but only if either the Steelers or Ravens lose.
I promise that NFL officials are hoping the Colts win this game because Andrew Luck is one of the league's stars, and it frankly would be shame for Indy to not make it after turning its season around following a 1-5 start. Luck has been playing as well as anyone since. The Titans looked like toast at 5-6 but have won their past four.
Colts at Titans Betting Story Lines
This line wasn't posted until Wednesday because of the status of Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. He missed a game earlier this season and was hampered in a few others because of a nerve issue in his elbow to where he could barely grip a ball.
In last Saturday's 25-16 home win over the Redskins, Mariota left late in the first half with what is being called a stinger. Clearly, though, it was the same problem. Here's what Mariota told a Tennessee radio station this week regarding the injury: "It basically sent my whole right side numb and tingly." Mariota added he's "going to do my best to be out there," but it doesn't sound great considering the team signed Austin Davis this week to potentially back up Blaine Gabbert. If you break a bone or crack a rib, you can get shot up full of a pain-killer and play for three hours. This type of injury it doesn't seem like that's possible.
Gabbert played pretty well vs. the Redskins … but he's Blaine Gabbert. Expect the following from the Titans regarding the offensive game plan: Derrick Henry run, Derrick Henry run, screen pass, first down/punt. Henry has been a monster the past three weeks. The Titans are 5-0 when Henry carries the ball 15 or more times. To make matters worse, one of the Titans' best defenders, end Jurrell Casey, was placed on injured reserve this week.
The Colts kept rolling with a 28-27 comeback win over the visiting Giants last Sunday. Possible trap game as the team fell behind 14-0 after one. Luck hit Chester Rogers on the winning 1-yard TD pass with 55 seconds left. Luck threw for 357 yards and two scores. He's sixth in the NFL in yards (4,308) and second in TDs (36) but with no shot to lead the league in either.
What makes this Colts team one of the best in Luck's tenure is finally a solid running game behind second-year Marlon Mack and a hugely improved defense - linebacker Darius Leonard, a second-round steal out of little South Carolina State, leads the NFL in tackles and is the -155 Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite at Bovada over the Chargers' Derwin James (+170).
Really the only new Colts injury from Week 16 is tight end Eric Ebron suffering a concussion, but he has been a limited participant at practice this week so maybe he plays. Ebron was considered a first-round bust with the Lions but has 62 catches for 690 yards and 12 scores in his first year as a Colt.
Colts at Titans Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Indianapolis is a 2.5-point favorite (-130) with a total of 44. On the moneyline, the Colts are -155 and Titans +135. On the alternate lines, the Colts are -3 (-105) and -2 (-135). Indy is 7-7-1 against the spread (4-3 on road) and 7-8 "over/under" (3-4 on road). Tennessee is 8-7 ATS (4-3 at home) and 7-8 O/U (4-3 at home).
The Colts have covered their past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Titans are 7-2 ATS in their past nine vs. the division and 11-4 ATS in their previous 15 vs. clubs with a winning record. The under is 8-0 in Indy's past eight vs. clubs with a winning record. It's 7-3 in Tennessee's previous 10 vs. the AFC. The Colts are 11-3 ATS in the past 14 meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five in Tennessee.
Colts at Titans Betting Prediction
In Week 11, the Colts routed the Titans 38-10 as Luck threw for 297 yards and three scores with only six incompletions. TY Hilton caught nine balls for 155 yards and two scores. Indy also rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns. It was an ass-kicking all around. Mariota left late in the first half with an injury and didn't return, and Gabbert was typical Gabbert in his spot. Henry was held to 46 yards on nine carries.
Still think Mariota will give it a go, but can't imagine a scenario where he can throw the ball downfield much. Colts can stack the box to stop Henry and will. Give the 2.5 points and go under the total.
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