First place in the AFC South is on the line when the 7-3 Titans travel to face the 7-3 Colts on Sunday.
It's the second meeting in just over two weeks for the two teams, as the Colts whipped the Titans 34-17 on Nov. 12 in Nashville. The Titans actually led that game 17-13 midway through the third quarter before a series of special-teams screw-ups doomed Tennessee. It began when punter Trevor Daniel shanked a 17-yard punt, setting up the Colts for a 27-yard touchdown drive. Indianapolis' next touchdown came courtesy of a blocked punt moments later, and then – as the Titans tried to trim the Colts' lead to 27-20 – Stephen Gostkowski missed a 44-yard field goal. Ballgame.
Will we see a similar result on Sunday? Well, let's analyze what the betting numbers look like so far.
The fact that 57% of the bets are on the Colts to win means there are a significant number of people who know the history of this rivalry. Including Indianapolis' win over the Titans earlier this month, the Colts have now beaten Tennessee in 15 of the teams' last 18 meetings. Though the Titans did craft a breakthrough win in Indianapolis last season – against quarterback Jacoby Brissett – Tennessee's trips north have not gone well over the years, as the Colts have won 10 of the 12 meetings at Lucas Oil Stadium. A little bit more history in the Colts' favor? Indianapolis quarterback Philip Rivers has traditionally sliced up Titans defenses. He has an 8-2 record against the Titans, has thrown 18 touchdowns versus just four touchdowns, and has posted a quarterback rating of 108.6 against Tennessee.
Both teams will be without key players up front, but some of those absences may cancel one another out. For the Colts, it seems all but certain that dominant defensive lineman DeForest Buckner will miss the contest after going on the COVID-19 reserve list earlier this week. It's possible another Colts starting lineman, Denico Autry, will be sidelined as well due to COVID. The potential absence of both players should light up the eyes of running back Derrick Henry and the Titans' offense. But keep in mind the team will be starting a third-string left tackle, which may be David Quessenberry, who was on the practice squad just a few weeks ago.
Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts Spread Odds
Over half the bets so far – 51.2% – are on the Colts covering as three-point favorites. It's tempting to say that's a gimme, considering Indy beat the Titans by 17 on the road so recently. But that game – as noted above – wasn't as lopsided as the final score indicated. Still, the Colts are a good bet to cover, considering they've done so in 60 percent of their games so far this season, and also because two of the Titans' losses this season have been by double digits. In recent years, Indy's wins over the Titans have come by good margins – an average of 15.8 points in the last four Colts victories.
Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts Total Points Odds
The over has been very popular, as 71% of bets have the game exceeding the total points line of 49.5. I wouldn't be surprised to see that figure increase as the game nears. Indianapolis shouldn't have much trouble marching down the field with regularity, as Rivers completed 29-of-39 passes for 308 yards in Nissan Stadium earlier this month. The Titans have the NFL's worst third-down defense, which Rivers should exploit with his quick-timing throws to maintain possession. Keep in mind, too, that the Titans will be playing their first game without leading tackler Jayon Brown, who's out for the season with an elbow injury.
But the Titans should be able to put some points on the board as well, even with a shaky left tackle situation. Henry has topped 100 yards in three of the last four weeks, all while running behind a second-string left tackle. So the Titans should be able to exploit the Colts' depleted defensive line to some extent. The possible absence of both Buckner and Autry also bodes well for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has been very productive when not pressured this season, so look for him to connect with A.J. Brown, Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith on a regular basis.
|Team||ML Odds||Point Spread|
|Tennessee Titans||+160||+3 (+100)|
|Indianapolis Colts||-170||-3 (-115)|