Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans

The result of this Week 17 AFC South showdown at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN affects both teams’ playoff chances since the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans have identical records and are just one win behind the first place Houston Texans with only two AFC postseason spots remaining, all happening on Sunday, December 30 at 8:20 pm, broadcasted by NBC.

The 9-6 Indianapolis Colts:

After starting the season 1-5, the Indianapolis Colts have gone on a 8-1 tear that’s put them right in the middle of the AFC playoff conversation, but only if they can take care of business against a Tennessee Titans team that’s equally qualified for the postseason.

The Colts are coming off a one-point win over the New York Giants in Week 16 by a score of 28-27, during which Colts veteran quarterback Andrew Luck connected with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton 7 times for 138 yards and Chester Rogers 7 times for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Indianapolis is 3-4 on the road and 3-2 against divisional opponents but they’re playing a home team that needs a win as desperately as they do, so it’s anyone’s game, though the Colts are slightly favored. 

The 9-6 Tennessee Titans:

After a slow 3-4 start to the season, the 9-6 Tennessee Titans are in a groove, having won the last six out of eight games, the latest being a 25-16 defeat of the Washington Redskins in front of a hometown crowd.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a stinger injury during that game, which left his arm feeling ‘numb and tingly’, but though he’s listed as questionable (see below) in Week 17, Mariota is still hoping to play.

Tennessee is 6-1 at Nissan Stadium and 3-2 against divisional rivals, but they’re hoping their slightly better defense can hold down the Colts’ better offense enough to snag the win and survive the season. 

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 48 times (including 1 postseason game), with Tennessee winning 16 games and Indianapolis winning 32 games. The Colts have won 17 of the last 20 meetings, their last win this season in Week 11 by a score of 38-10.

If the Colts win this matchup, they’ll be going to the playoffs with a 10-6 record and depending on if the Houston Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts will either be the AFC South champs or the sixth seed wildcard team.

But if the Titans come out on top, they’ll be the team going to the playoffs with a 10-6 record and depending on if the Houston Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Titans will either be the AFC South champs or the sixth seed wildcard team.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Week 17 Colts-Titans matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Colts and the Titans and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Colts offense ranked 7th in the NFL

Quarterback Luck and crew will score an average of 26.7 points per game and typically move the ball a total of 382.9 yards each time.

Against the Giants, Luck was 31-of-47 for 357 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and against the league, he’s ranked 6th in passing yards with 4,308 and 36 touchdowns (2nd most in the NFL) with 14 interceptions.

Colts’ rushing attack ranked 21st overall

The Colts have a young running back corps, with Marlon Mack in his second year and Nyheim Hines in his rookie season, both are threats on the ground and in the air.

Mack has had 184 touches for 893 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns while Hines has had 144 touches for 710 yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns.

Indianapolis offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 17: wide receivers Zach Pascal (knee), T.Y. Hilton (ankle), Dontrelle Inman (shoulder) and Daurice Fountain (ankle), center Ryan Kelly (neck) and tight ends Ryan Hewitt (foot) and Eric Ebron (concussion).

The 2018 Titans offense ranked 26th overall

Tennessee only scores an average of 19.5 points per game after moving the ball 313.7 total yards each time.

Mariota’s season hasn’t been all that productive, ranked 26th overall he’s thrown for 2,528 yards and just 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and Mariota has been sacked 42 times, seventh most overall.

Wide receiver Corey Davis has been the main Titans’ passing target with 60 catches for 843 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Tennessee’s run game 5th in the league

The Titans have an NFL top-ten rusher in Derrick Henry, who’s put together a solid statistical season.

Henry has 199 rushing attempts for 966 yards, 12 touchdowns (T-3rd most in the league) and the longest NFL touchdown run this season (and the second 99-yard run in NFL history) against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14.

Tennessee offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 17: quarterback Marcus Mariota (neck), wide receivers Corey Davis (hamstring) and Tajae Sharpe (ankle).

Tight end Cole Wick (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve. 

Colts Defense ranks 11th in the league

Indianapolis allows its opponents to score an average of 21.8 points and to move the ball 344.9 yards per game with a rushing defense ranked 8th and a passing defense ranked 17th.

The Colts are tied for 12th most interceptions with 13, they’re tied for 14th most sacks with 38 and they’re tied for 20th most forced fumbles with 12.

Colts Defensive Players to watch:

The man with the league’s most tackles currently is outside linebacker Darius Leonard, who has 155 combined tackles plus 7.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, 2 recovered fumbles and an interception.

The sack man for Indianapolis is defensive tackle Denico Autry, who has 9.0 of them.

Free safety Malik Hooker is questionable to go in Week 17 (see below) but keep an eye on him if he plays – he’s already intercepted 2 balls and has 41 tackles, defended 5 passes and recovered a fumble.

Colts defensive injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 17: cornerbacks Chris Milton (foot) and Nate Hairston (hip), outside linebacker Matthew Adams (groin), defensive end Jabaal Sheard (teeth), free safety Malik Hooker (hip), cornerback Quincy Wilson (calf), middle linebacker Anthony Walker (shoulder) and strong safety Clayton Geathers (knee).

Titans Defense is 7th overall

Opponents of Tennessee score an average of 18 points (second lowest in the league) and move the ball 326.5 yards per game with a rushing defense ranked 14th and a passing defense ranked 6th.

The Titans have the 23rd most interceptions with 10, they’re tied for 14th most sacks with 38 and they’re tied for 17th most forced fumbles with 13.

Titans Defensive Players to watch:

Watch inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard get his 100th tackle during this matchup, his current total is 99 along with 4.5 sacks and a recovered fumble.

 Defensive end Jurrell Casey has the Titans’ most sacks with 7.0 of them, but he’s been put on injured reserve (see below), so instead watch inside linebacker Jayon Brown, who’s close behind with 6.0 sacks of his own.

Tied for 6th most interceptions in the league is free safety Kevin Byard with 4 picks this season along with 12 passes defended, 2.0 sacks and 80 combined tackles.

Titans Defensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 17: outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (elbow).

Defensive end Jurrell Casey (knee-MCL) was placed on injured reserve Monday.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Indianapolis’s punter, Rigoberto Sanchez, was an All-Rookie last season, and so far he’s punted 53 times for a net average of 42.5 yards per punt, T-5th best in the league.

Tennessee’s Second-team All Pro veteran punter, Brett Kern, has punted 68 times for a net average of 41.4 yards per punt, ranked 8th in the NFL.

Placekickers:

Indianapolis’ veteran placekicker Adam Vinatieri is a 4x Super Bowl Champion, a 3x Pro Bowler and a 3x First-team All-Pro.

Vinatieri is 21-for-25, his longest was a 54-yarder, and he has missed two extra point attempts (41/43).

Tennessee’s placekicker, Ryan Succop, was acquired in 2009 from the Chiefs and so far he is 25-for-29, his longest was a 54-yarder.

Succop has missed three extra point attempts (26/29).

Punt Returners:

Indianapolis’s punt returner, wide receiver Chester Rogers, is ranked 20th in the league.

Rogers has returned 22 punts for 215 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 9.8 yards per return, his longest for 51 yards.

Tennessee’s punt returner, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, is ranked 19th in the league in return average.

Jackson has returned 14 punts for 138 yards and a touchdown, averaging 9.9 yards per return, his longest was for 26 yards.

Colts–Titans prediction and odds

The odds makers have the Colts favored over the Titans by 3 with an over/under of 43.5.

CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:

Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Colts 23, Titans 19

John Breech takes the under and predicts it Colts 23, Titans 16

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