The Indianapolis Colts travel to Nashville in week 8 to square off against the Tennessee Titans.
The Colts are a much improved squad this season with franchise QB Andrew Luck under centre. After a dreadful 2-14 season last year, the team has surpassed their win total from 2011 with a solid 3-3 record on the year. They are 3-3 ATS however in 2 road games this year they are 0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS with losses to the Jets 35-9 in week 6 and 41-21 at Soldier Field in week 1.
QB Luck has been solid under centre with a 53.6% completion percentage and 1,674 yards in the air with 7 TDs. He has had trouble turning the ball over mind you as a rookie QB learning the ropes in the NFL with 7 INTs in 6 games. Starting RB Donald Brown is expected to be out for a couple more weeks with an injured knee. Rookie RB Vick Ballard filled in admirably for Brown Sunday with 84 yards rushing on 20 attempts however the team remains thin at this position with their starter out. 34 year old veteran WR Reggie Wayne has excelled with Luck at pivot with an excellent 666 yards receiving this year with 2 TDs. The offense has struggled overall putting points on the board averaging 19.5 PPG while the defense has given up a massive 26.3 PPG for a net differential of -6.8 PPG. On the road, the team has averaged a net differential of -23 PPG!
The Colts have been decimated by injuries of late, aside from starting RB Brown being out, perennial All Pro LB Dwight Freeney has been bothered by a nagging high ankle sprain all season that has really effected his mobility as a top rated pass rusher. As a result he has a mere 4 tackles and 1 sack on the season. OT Winston Justice left Sunday's game with an ankle injury and is questionable for the Titans game. LB Robert Mathis has been sidelined with a knee injury and remains questionable for Sunday. DT Cory Redding has been out with a knee injury and is not expected to be ready for week 8 while DE Fili Moala (knee) and CB Darius Bulter (shoulder) are not expected to play as well, leaving the team thin across the board.
The Titans are 3-4 SU and 3-4 ATS after solid back to back wins at home vs. the mighty Steelers 2 weeks ago 26-23 and a slim road victory in week 7 by a score of 35-34 at Buffalo. Including the Steelers victory, the Titans are 2-1 SU and 2-1 ATS at home with their only loss to powerhouse New England 34-13 in week 1, while they beat Detroit 44-41 at home in week 3.
Young starting QB Jake Locker was injured in week 4 with backup veteran pivot Matt Hasselbeck taking over winning 2 of 3 starts impressively in his absence. Hasselbeck has what it takes to win with a solid career 82.1 QB rating in 191 career games! Superstar RB Chris Johnson has had a history of slow starts and 2012 has been no exception. In his first 6 games of the season, Johnson struggled while posting 301 yards on the ground and 0 TDs, for a 50 YPG average. In week 7 vs. Buffalo he exploded for 195 yards on the ground and 2 TDs against the Bills 32nd ranked rushing defense! Look for much of the same this Sunday as the Colts have not been much better stopping the run, ranking 26th in the NFL giving up a massive 141.7 YPG on the ground!
The Titans offense has struggled posting 21.3 PPG but they have been much better with Hasselbeck under centre scoring an average of 30.5 PPG in their last 2 games. The defense will look to improve on their 34.0 PPG average given up this season with the young Colts squad in town Sunday. They have been outscored at home by an avg -5 PPG in 3 games but that includes the 23 point loss in week 1 to New England.
2009 1st round pick WR Kenny Britt has scuffled the last 2 seasons with injuries but comes into this matchup 100% healthy and looking to break out. In his last outing vs. the Colts, he exploded for 9 catches, 124 yards receiving and 1 TD. Look for Britt to make a difference downfield in this game.
Starting QB Locker could be ready for this game however it looks like the team will give Locker at least another week to recover as the team rides the success of Hasselbeck. LB McCarthy is questionable for this game and backup RB Javon Ringer (knee) remains out, with no other significant injuries on the table.
The Titans are 3-1 ATS vs. the Colts in their last 4 meeting including 2-0 ATS in their last 2 at home, however historical figures between these two do not hold a lot of weight with the QB carousel in Indy the past few seasons.
The Titans are currently a slim 3.5 point favorite in this game and I expect them to ride their momentum to the victory in this game. Take the Titans to win ATS.