Titans To See Off Colts In AFC Elimination Game

Mariota holds the key for Tennessee

The Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts battle it out for the final place in the AFC post-season at Nissan Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

Both teams have identical records, although the Colts hold the tie-breaker and are currently sitting in the sixth seed. However, a defeat at the hands of Tennessee would send them crashing out of the post-season. The Titans could even climb as high as three seed and win the AFC South crown should the Houston Texans lose their clash against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Everything is at stake in the 2018 season for the two AFC South teams, with the playoffs seemingly beginning a week early. The Titans enter the contest with fitness doubts about quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was forced to leave their win over the Washington Redskins.

Tennessee’s offense has been poor with him on the field, without him they would stand little chance of beating Indianapolis. Derrick Henry has run the ball over the last few weeks, but he cannot carry the team alone. Mariota has been plagued with injuries and consistency issues throughout his career, he needs to play and perform for his team this week.

Andrew Luck inspired a comeback win over the New York Giants last time out after it appeared the window had slammed shut on the Colts’ hopes. He and his team-mate rallied to secure a one-point win and will be looking to ride the crest of a wave into their do-or-die clash against Tennessee.

Mariota holds the key for Tennessee

Tennessee Titans

The Titans were forced to battle hard last week against the Redskins to pull off their victory. Washington’s fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson almost allowed the NFC East side to stun the Titans on the road. However, Mike Vrabel’s men were good enough when it mattered the most and scored a late touchdown courtesy of an interception from Malcolm Butler to secure a 25-16 victory. It was the club’s fourth win on the bounce and put the pressure on the Colts and the Texans. Houston’s defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles has left the AFC South up for grabs.

If the Texans were to falter against the Jaguars then Tennessee or Indianapolis would be in place to snatch the third seed in the AFC playoff race. Tennessee have a solid record at home this term, losing only once in a horrendous outing against the Baltimore Ravens.

Since then they’ve been solid, including a brilliant performance to defeat the New England Patriots. The defense has been impressive throughout the campaign. They’re ranked seventh in the NFL in fewest yards allowed and second only to the Ravens in fewest points allowed. Butler has overcome a poor start to his Titans’ career, rounding into form in the second half of the campaign. He and the rest of the secondary have to be flawless against Luck.

The game may rest on whether Mariota is able to suit up. He has not been overly effective during his time on the field, throwing 11 touchdowns in 14 games. However, without him the Titans will not be able to move the ball downfield. Mariota may have to play through the pain barrier to get his team over the line.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are on the charge and might be the most dangerous team in the AFC heading into the final week of the campaign. After a week six defeat to the New York Jets, Indianapolis fell to 1-5 in their season. Since then the Colts have run off an 8-1 record, including a run of three wins on the bounce, defeating the Texans and the Dallas Cowboys in the process.

Frank Reich has enjoyed an excellent first term in charge of the franchise. He was their back-up option to Josh McDaniels, who voided his deal at the 11th hour. It has proven to be a godsend for the Colts, who appear to be a team transformed under Reich’s tenure.

Luck has been the key cog of their success. The 29-year-old has put the team on his back throughout the season, displaying the strength of his arm that had been in doubt due to his shoulder injury. However, he has been on point and the player of old, throwing 36 touchdowns and 14 interceptions along with 4,308 yards in his 15 games to date. The interceptions are a slight concern heading into a must-win game. Luck has made errors in recent weeks that on another day could have cost his team.

The Colts’ defense has been inconsistent to say the least. They were outstanding against the Cowboys, shutting down the NFC East outfit. However, they allowed the Giants to put 27 points on the board before they were able to clamp down in the fourth quarter. The unit needs a strong performance on the road in Tennessee to aid their quarterback.

Head to Head

Games Played: 48 Tennessee Titans: 16 Indianapolis Colts: 32

The Colts have not lost to the Titans with Luck as their starting quarterback. Tennessee won the two matchups between the teams last season in the absence of the 29-year-old. However, those were their first triumphs over their rivals since the 2011 campaign.

The Colts hammered Vrabel’s men in their meeting earlier this term at Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck threw three touchdowns in a 38-10 victory, which was all but over at the end of the first half. History is on the side of Indianapolis heading into the final week contest.

Betting Options

The game all hinges on whether Mariota is ready for action. Even if the quarterback plays he might not be anywhere near his best form. The 25-year-old has been at practice this week, although that could even be gamesmanship from the Titans. Blaine Gabbert is a career backup and not a good one. He will not be able to carry Tennessee to victory if Mariota cannot play. Mariota has to tough it out for his team, while the running game of Henry and Dion Lewis have to lead the way.

Between the running backs and Tennessee’s defense, there’s hope of pulling off the victory to secure a post-season berth. Back the Titans because they’re at home to secure the win at odds of +165   with Bovada. The spread of +3.5 with BetOnline for the Titans is good value at -105 , but expect the over/under on total points to come in under 43 points at -110   with TopBet.

Tips Summary

Tennessee Titans To Beat Indianapolis Colts
Sunday 30th December 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 31st December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: +165

Tennessee Titans +3.5 Spread
Sunday 30th December 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 31st December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: -105

Under 43 Total Points Scored
Sunday 30th December 2018 20:20 ET (Monday 31st December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: -110