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Sunday’s live games on Sky begins with a huge game for control of the AFC North as the Indianapolis Colts welcome the Tennessee Titans to Lucas Oil Stadium.
This is, of course, the reverse fixture of the game 2 weeks ago between these team in which Indianapolis came away with an impressive 34-17 win in Nashville. With both sides sitting on 7-3 records this is what is known as a ‘6-pointer’ in soccer terms and will be a major factor in determining the winner of this division. The Colts will have the psychological advantage from winning 2 weeks ago and will surely be confident of wrapping up the series sweep but Tennessee will feel they didn’t do themselves justice in that game and be out to prove a point. This one could be fireworks!
Money line: Tennessee 11/8 Indianapolis 6/10
Points Spread: Indianapolis -3
I wouldn’t go near 6/10 on Indy especially if I don’t know for definite if Quenton Nelson is playing. If he gets ruled out, expect those odds to change significantly, so I’d take that gamble on Tennessee at 11/8 while I can get them. Even if Nelson does play, they still have a really good shot to win this game.
Fantasy Football Outlook:
As per usual, the Tennessee game-plan offensively will revolve largely around Derrick Henry. Their formula of establishing Henry’s ultra-physical brand of running and slicing in play-action off it has proven to be very difficult for teams to handle. Expect Henry to deliver his usual high performance, even against an extremely stingy Colts defense.
Ryan Tannehill will be one of those players who will feel his performance needs to improve on the last game if Tennessee are to reverse their fortunes this time out. He was held to 15/27 for a pedestrian 147 yards and a TD in that game, and while they’re not terrible stats (The Titans have won playoff games with him doing much less) he wasn’t able to make big plays when needed to keep the Titans in real contention to win that game. But Tannehill has more ability than he is generally given credit for so don’t count him out of this one.
Their game breakers in the passing game are WR AJ Brown and Tight End Jonnu Smith. Smith in particular has put his name in the conversation of elite fantasy TE’s this year and is actually still available to be picked up in over 10% of NFL.com fantasy leagues. I find that staggering.
Looking further down their roster, it’s tough to see anyone I would be confident of having a good day against the Colts. They run a lot of 2 Tight End stuff so Anthony Firkser could be one. He has shown he can be a factor, especially in the red zone, so if you are stuck at TE, he could be a shout. But that would be a brave call. And I was a big believer in D’onta Foreman coming out of college. His career hasn’t panned out thus far, but he has enough ability to get the job done. Just don’t expect his carry count to be high while Derrick Henry is healthy.
The Colts offense had a really good day against Tennessee the last time and Philip Rivers looked very comfortable in that game. Rivers is listed as questionable for this game but is expected to play. He has been inconsistent throughout his career so it will be interesting to see if he can have another solid outing here.
The Colts run game has been dealt a blow with impressive Rookie RB Jonathan Taylor has being ruled out so the combination of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will carry that load. Hines recent form has been quite good, and he gashed the Titans for 115 total yards and 2 TD’s last time out. Expect him to see the field often, but the tough running will be left to Wilkins.
Outside, we may be starting to see the emergence of rookie Michael Pittman as a legit go-to receiver. With Tennessee’s defense being fairly meagre at defending receivers, Pittman and veteran TY Hilton are both solid options at wide receiver. Trey Burton, Mo-Allie Cox and Jack Doyle make up the TE trio but none of these stand out to me as a quality option in this game to be honest.
One thing with noting is the injury report on their offensive line. Centre Ryan Kelly is out and star Guard Quenton Nelson is questionable. Both would be huge losses and could severely affect their offensive output with a strong Titans defensive front waiting in the wings.
I genuinely think this game could be decided by whether Quenton Nelson plays or not. With Centre Ryan Kelly already out, if Nelson doesn’t play, I can’t see anything other than a Titans victory. If he does, they still have a tough task on their hands but it’s not impossible. Their defense is rock solid and can keep them in the game for as long as needs be. But if they can’t get any rhythm on offense, and with DT DeForest Bucker missing for the Colts, Derrick Henry will take this game over without needing to be asked twice. It’s a much closer game if the Colts offense can mount a threat but Tennessee are my favourites for this game.
Tennessee by 4 (much more if Q is out)