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Sunday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans Prediction and Preview

Andrew Luck is 10-0 all-time against the Titans

Andrew Luck is 10-0 all-time against the Titans

The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans will have a lot to play for in Week 17. A come-from-behind victory (28-27 final score) over the New York Giants in Week 16 kept the Colts in contention for a playoff spot while the Titans handling of the Washington Redskins did the same.

Out of all the statistics that stand out heading into this game, Andrew Luck’s record against the Colts’ divisional foe stands above the rest. He’s a perfect 10-0 all-time against the Titans with the most recent victory being a 38-10 beatdown back in Week 11.

Can the Titans finally get the best of the Stanford man?

Indianapolis at Tennessee

Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 30, at 8:20 p.m. ET


Spread: Indianapolis -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Win and you’re in

It’s not often that two teams get to go head-to-head in Week 17 to see who moves on to the playoffs, but here we are. The “win and you’re in” mentality will be in full force come Sunday night, and that should add an exciting element to the game.

The Titans found their way into the playoffs last season — and even got a win over the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card matchup. The Colts, on the other hand, haven’t made it back to the playoffs since the New England Patriots handed them a 45-7 loss in the AFC Championship back in 2015.

2. Marcus Mariota’s availability

Tennessee’s star quarterback is doing everything he can to get on the field for Sunday’s game. Whether he will be successful in that question remains to be seen, however.

Mariota has been dealing with an issue that’s been described as a stinger. He was forced to leave last Saturday’s game against the Washington Redskins due to that issue, and it isn’t the first time it’s occurred. Earlier in the year, the Oregon product missed three games due to a similar injury.

Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was inserted into the starting lineup for the second half of last week’s game, and he performed admirably. The 29-year-old veteran completed 7-of-11 (63.5 percent) passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. With that said, his inconsistent play during his career brings on major concerns if Mariota isn’t ready to go.

3. The Colts’ run defense vs. Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry has been outstanding during the month of December. In four games, he’s averaged 20.3 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns. There was an impressive two-game stretch where the 6-foot-3, 247-pound workhorse ran the ball 50 times for 408 yards and six touchdowns.

We haven’t seen that sort of dominance in a long time.

The good news for Colts fans is Indianapolis has been good against the run so far this season. They’re only giving up 102.2 yards per game, which is good for No. 8 in the league. That number has been even better over the last three games — they’re only giving up 94.7 yards per game during that time.

Luck and Co. will try to put pressure on the Titans offense by scoring points early and often. If that happens, it could neutralize a dominant run game led by Henry. If not, get ready to see an exciting match up.

Final Analysis

The Colts have been one of the hottest teams in the AFC since late October. Andrew Luck, from a statistical standpoint, is having one of the best seasons of his career. His 67.2 completion percentage is the highest it’s ever been, while his 287.2 passing yards per game and 36 touchdowns are on pace to be the second-best.

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In other words, the former No. 1 overall pick is playing some of his best football.

If Tennessee is going to have a chance in this game, Marcus Mariota is going to need to be on the field — and playing well. Two of the team’s top three receivers (Corey Davis and Tajae Sharpe) have been limited so far this week with nagging leg injuries. That’s not a good combination.

The Titans should keep things close, but Indianapolis will walk away with their tenth win in 2018 and a spot in the playoffs.

Prediction: Colts 23, Titans 21