Week 10 of the NFL season kicks off with a critical AFC South game Thursday night between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. At home, the Titans are listed as 2-point favorites with the over/under set at 48.5 points.
The Titans came close to losing three games in a row but were able to hold on in a win against the Bears last week. That game has a chance to get Tennessee back on track after a disappointing loss to the Bengals the previous week. It also has the Titans at the top of the AFC South at 6-2. However, they are about to play four straight games against winning teams, including two games with the Colts and a road game against the Ravens, leaving the upstart Titans with a lot left to prove.
Speaking of the Colts, they lost 24-10 to the Ravens last week, dropping them to 5-3 on the season and a game behind Tennessee in the AFC South. Indy also faces a challenging schedule ahead, as the Colts host the Packers in between their two November games with the Titans. They don’t want to fall two games behind Tennessee this late in the season, making Thursday’s game critical for their chances to win the division.
Follow the River
The Colts have had to rely on Philip Rivers a little more than they would prefer this season. The running game has been inconsistent at best. Now, rookie Jonathan Taylor appears to be losing carries to Jordan Wilkins after a critical fumble in last week’s loss to Baltimore. Indy also lacks a standout wide receiver, as everyone on the roster is below 300 receiving yards at the midway point in the season. That makes the Colts overly reliant on Rivers to the point where if he doesn’t play well, they aren’t likely to win.
Of course, the Tennessee defense has been nothing special this year either. The Titans have been fine against the run, but the lack of a consistent pass rush has left their secondary vulnerable. Even Nick Foles was able to throw for over 300 yards against the Tennessee defense last week. The Titans have also allowed at least 30 points in half of their games this season, so they are far from reliable, especially against a veteran quarterback like Rivers.
The Tennessee offense has been in a rut over the last month. The Titans managed just 228 yards against Chicago last week and benefited from getting a touchdown from their defense. Even with playmakers like A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry around him, Ryan Tannehill has underwhelmed in recent weeks, taking a step back from where he was in mid-October. On the bright side, defenses have to spend so much time and energy on Henry that it’s difficult to entirely shut down the Tennessee offense.
Of course, the Colts are going to give it their best shot. Indianapolis has allowed the third-fewest points in the NFL this year, conceding 20 points per game. Even the dynamic Baltimore offense was held to just 266 yards and 24 points a week ago. When you take a mobile quarterback out of the equation, the Indy defense can be even better at stopping the run and forcing teams to become one-dimensional.
In the Trenches
At the line of scrimmage, the Colts appear to have a significant advantage over the Titans. The Indy defense can stop the run while the Indy offensive line should give Rivers plenty of time against a modest Tennessee pass rush. This isn’t likely to be a high-scoring or aesthetically-pleasing game, but look for the Colts to come out on top as road underdogs.
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