Colts at Titans
November 13, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
Both the Colts and Titans are coming off embarrassing home losses last week in different fashion, as the two AFC South rivals hook up in Nashville to kick off Week 11. Indianapolis is still in control of the division at 6-3, while Tennessee is within striking distance at 4-5, but the Titans need a victory to have a reasonable shot to possibly win the AFC South.
St. Louis blindsided Indianapolis this past Sunday with a fumble return for a score and a punt return for a touchdown in the first 20 minutes. The Rams led the Colts, 28-0 at halftime, while cruising to a 38-0 advantage in the second half. Indianapolis avoided a shutout with an Andrew Luck touchdown pass and a two-point conversion, but the Colts suffered their third loss of the season, 38-8. St. Louis cashed outright as 7 ½-point road underdogs, while intercepting Luck three times.
The Titans lost by only two points, but it came at the expense of the previously winless Jaguars. Tennessee fell behind Jacksonville as 11 ½-point home favorites, 13-0, but rallied back to trail, 22-20 with four minutes remaining. However, a fumble return for a touchdown gave Jacksonville back a nine-point lead, while Tennessee scored a late touchdown to cut the game to 29-27, which proved to be the final.
Mike Munchak's squad started the season at 3-1, but the Titans have been exposed with losses in four of their last five games. Three of those defeats came at LP Field, as Tennessee has allowed at least 26 points in each of those home losses, resulting in three 'overs.' Even though the Titans are two games back of the Colts in the AFC South, Tennessee has yet to win a division contest in two tries, as a loss to Indianapolis would put Tennessee at a huge disadvantage to claim the division title.
Indianapolis has done a solid job bouncing back from a loss the first two times around this season. Chuck Pagano's club lost to Miami in Week 2, but destroyed San Francisco on the road the following week, 27-7. The Colts' offense struggled in a Week 6 setback at San Diego, but Indianapolis took care of business against previously unbeaten Denver, 39-33. However, each victory off the defeat came in the underdog role, as the Colts are short favorites on Thursday night.
Last season, the Colts swept the season series from the Titans, as each victory came by less than six points. In the first meeting in Nashville, Luck moved the Colts down the field in the final four minutes of regulation to tie the contest at 13-13. The former top pick hit Vick Ballard for a 16-yard touchdown in overtime to lift Indianapolis to a 19-13 triumph as 3 ½-point underdogs.
In the next matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts needed another rally, as Indianapolis trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter. However, the Colts returned a Jake Locker interception for a touchdown and Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals to vault Indianapolis past Tennessee, 27-23 as 3 ½-point home favorites. This game barely finished 'over' the total of 47 thanks to a pair of defensive scores.
VegasInsider.com handicapper Antony Dinero says this could be the last stand for Tennessee, "With Locker done, the Titans are going to have to rally around Ryan Fitzpatrick if they're going to be a factor in the AFC playoff race. Having lost to the Jaguars at home, you have to wonder whether guys will rally around the backup or fold up and quit on the season. After a flat effort against St. Louis, the Colts will surely be ready to play as they look to lock up the AFC South on the road. Whether the Titans show up remains to be seen, and Munchak's job as head coach probably hangs in the balance as his team takes the Thursday night stage. It's on him to get his football team to turn the page."
Locker suffered a season-ending foot injury in the loss to Jacksonville, the second major injury the former University of Washington quarterback has suffered this season. In two games started by Fitzpatrick, the Titans scored a total of 30 points in losses to the Chiefs and Seahawks, who are a combined 18-1 on the season.
The Colts are listed as three-point road 'chalk,' while the total is set at 42 ½. The game kicks off at 8:30 PM EST and can be seen nationally on the NFL Network.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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