Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts Week 3 Predictions and Picks: Against The Spread, Total, and Props
No one would call a game in Week 3 a “must-win” game for any team, but let’s just say this week’s game is crucial for the Indianapolis Colts. If the Colts lose to the Titans and fall to 0-3, they would quickly be two games behind Tennessee in the AFC South standings. Six teams since 1980 have made the playoffs after starting 0-3, but just one has done it since 1998. So will we be talking about Indianapolis’ chances of making the playoffs after starting 0-3, or will they announce to the rival Titans that they will still be a factor in the race to win the division?
Indianapolis’ offensive line was supposed to be a strength coming into the season, led by All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson. However, the unit looks like a liability through the first two games and a big reason why their quarterback has two sprained ankles. Carson Wentz has been sacked six times and hit 21 times total through the first two games. Nelson has been active the last two weeks but is still dealing with a nagging back injury. In addition, right tackle Braden Smith remains out with a foot injury, and center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Eric Fisher may not be 100% healthy either. Pass protection is not the only problem the offensive line has, as the team was stuffed on three consecutive running plays from the Rams one-yard line last week. As a result, they scored zero points in two red-zone possessions in their loss to Los Angeles and now have three empty red-zone trips on the season.
The Tennessee Titans looked like they were in for similar scrutiny to Indianapolis when they fell behind 24-9 to the Seattle Seahawks. However, they finished the game on a 24-6 run and beat the Seahawks on a field goal in overtime. While the defense should be applauded for a solid second half, Tennessee does not even its record at 1-1 without a monster performance from Derrick Henry. Henry carried 35 times for 182 yards and three touchdowns and added another 55 yards receiving. It was Henry’s third career game with 200+ scrimmage yards and three rushing touchdowns, the second-most in NFL history. Henry also became the third player in NFL history with four games of 175+ rushing yards and three touchdowns, joining Jim Brown and LaDanian Tomlinson.
At the time of this writing, Carson Wentz has not practiced all week, which looks ominous for his chances to play. If that ends up being the case, the Titans will likely be one of the more heavily bet favorites in Week 3. Indianapolis’ offense would be left to Jacob Eason, the second-year man who threw an interception on his second pass attempt in relief of the injured Wentz last week. Eason completed 41 of 62 passes in the preseason for 389 yards but did not record a single interception.
Whether or not it is Eason or Wentz under center, expect head coach Frank Reich to employ a run-heavy scheme with Jonathan Taylor and quick passes to Nyheim Hines and their stable of wide receivers. These two teams split their two head-to-head meetings last year, each winning on the other’s home field. For the Colts, the formula is simple. When they won in Tennessee, they controlled the time of possession and ran for 133 yards. When they lost at home, they lost the time of possession battle 35:33-24:27 and ran for just 56 yards.
We would not give Indianapolis a puncher’s chance if Tennessee had even an average defense, even if Wentz gutted it out on Sunday. But the Titans defense is vulnerable to the Colts’ smashmouth style, and they are the 24th-ranked defense in terms of yards allowed per game. The Colts are 5-0 ATS in their last five Week 3 games, and the Colts are 4-1 ATS in their previous five road games at Tennessee. It might not be the prettiest offensive game plan on Sunday, but the uglier a game they make it, the better their chances are.