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Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans Point Spread - Pick

Indianapolis Colts (9-6 SU, 7-7-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (9-6 SU, 8-7 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, December 30, 2018 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: IND -2.5/TEN +2.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Indianapolis Colts come into Nashville on Sunday for a big week 17 AFC South showdown with the Tennessee Titans. The battle lines are spelled out, with this one having big postseason ramifications. The winner of this game is in the playoffs—that much is clear. They can either get in as a wild-card or as the AFC South champ in the event that the Texans lose to the Jaguars. How it happens is secondary, as both teams are focused on winning their way into the playoffs. The stakes don't get much higher than that in the regular season—winner is in and loser goes home.

On November 18 in Indy, these divisional rivals met and the Colts romped their way to a 38-10 win. That result certainly doesn't paint the prospects of the Titans in a great light for the purposes of this matchup. Andrew Luck was very on-target, completing 23 of 29 passes for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver TY Hilton caught nine balls for 155 yards and two scores. The Colts also got production on the ground. The Titans had to put Blaine Gabbert in that game with Mariota hurt. It's worth mentioning, however, that Tennessee was in their funky period of the season when they were losing five of seven games. The Titans are at home and a different team than the one that took the field that day.

The Titans have been pretty streaky, yet find themselves in the midst of some nice momentum with four straight wins. There have been some close ones along the way, including two losses by a single point. They started the season at 3-1, before losing three in a row. Back-to-back wins followed, before back-to-back losses to the Colts and Texans dropped them to 5-6. All assumed it would be a wrap and they showed a lot of guts in winning four straight. Let's also point out, though, that they beat the Jets, Jaguars, Giants, and Redskins—not exactly the most-fearsome quartet of teams.

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The Tennessee offense will be up against it if Mariota is compromised from the stinger he got in the win over the Redskins. Their offense, a problem-area all season, has been playing better. They have gotten a big boost from the play of RB Derrick Henry, who has saved his best for the end of the season. After a so-so regular season, he started turning it on in week 14 and in the last three games, has a whopping 492 yards and 7 touchdowns. Having QB issues might not be that horrible for a team that runs the ball mostly and Blaine Gabbert was very good in relief last Saturday against Washington. But Mariota is still a valuable weapon with his legs and let's just say he's the starter for a reason, regardless of what criticisms you might want to levy on him. Dion Lewis is a good weapon in the backfield and as a pass-catcher, with Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe the heavy lifters in an aerial package that generally leaves something to be desired.

If Tennessee is to emerge as a darkhorse contender coming out of the AFC, it will be their defense that is a big part of that equation. In averaging just 18 points a game from their opponents, they rank close to the top. And when they needed it most, the "D" has stepped up—allowing a combined 25 points in their last three games. And they have been making a lot of plays. Against the Redskins, they got two picks, with Kevin Byard and Malcolm Butler each recording interceptions. In the fourth quarter when the chips are in the middle of the pot, we see the pass-rush amp up a notch. The pass-rush and the overall playmaking on this defense has gotten better over the course of the season. Their run-defense is probably best described as average. But against Indy, their playmaking and stout secondary is a great asset to possess.

With eight wins in their last 9, the Colts have really turned around a season that looked like it was going nowhere after a depressing 1-5 start. Suddenly pieces on defense started coming together, Andrew Luck started looking like his old self, and his supporting cast rose to the occasion in a big way. As they showed on Sunday with the one-point win over the Giants in a tough scrap, they have shown the ability to win close games, while also blowing out enough teams along the way to show their overall horsepower on both sides of the ball. One of those blowouts occurred against the team they're playing this weekend, as they hope for a similar result on Sunday.

With over 4300 yards and 36 touchdowns with a completion percentage of over 67%, Luck has been terrific, especially over the second half of the season. TY Hilton has been stellar and was huge in the game against the Giants on Sunday with the big catch at the end. He leads the team with 1209 yards. But other contributions this season have been huge, with Eric Ebron catching 12 TDs and Chester Rogers heating up, as well. Their run game offers some diversity and gives the offense some help for a change, which has given this side of the ball a new dimension. Marlon Mack has been great, with Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines adding an additional spark. With youngsters and first-year Colts players delivering in a big way, this side of the ball has become one of the top offenses in the conference once again. Despite the Indy O-line not getting a ton of run in the media this season, Luck has only been sacked 17 times, a number that is a mere fraction of what he was subjected to in past seasons.

While not a defense that will elicit much wonder, the Colts' "D" is at least a few steps above what we were used to seeing, even when Luck was leading this team to the playoffs several years ago. With Margus Hunt, Tyquan Lewis, Denico Autry, and Jabaal Sheard up front and with Darius Leonard and Ahmad Thomas, among others, in the middle, the run-stop is actually a team-asset now. Safety Malik Hooker had a pick on Manning on Sunday and he helps lead a playmaking secondary that has also played better in the second-half. Sheard, Leonard, Autry, and Hunt are also good in getting after quarterbacks.

I see this being a lot closer than Indy's romp over the Titans in mid-November. I still see Indy as more of a legit force and by far the bigger postseason threat should they win. With better quarterback play, more weapons, and their defense more-suited to counter the Titans' strengths, which is a run-heavy offense, the matchup-components and the naked-eye appraisal would seem to favor the Colts. The Titans are at home in a big game and that counts for something. But in a game where points are precious, I like Luck and Company to get the cover in Nashville.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Indianapolis Colts minus 2.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Indy vs. Tennessee game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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