The 2018 NFL regular season has come to an end and the league has seen fit to save the best for last. Flexed into today’s Sunday night timeslot (8:20 PM ET on NBC) is the game between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, and it truly is a ‘win and in’ scenario.
Both teams are in position to secure a wildcard for the AFC. All they have to do tonight, in the final game of the year, is get the victory. Their fate is in their own hands and that makes for a great matchup to end the year on.
Colts Season Recap
From 1971 through 2017, 217 teams have started the season 1-5 with only one reaching the playoffs. It was the Kansas City Chiefs, who did so in 2016. Prior to that, the Cincinnati Bengals had done so in 1970. If the Colts win on Sunday, they will add their name to that very exclusive list as just the third team to reach the postseason after starting the season with just one win and five losses.
The Colts’ season began in the loss column as the team dropped their home opener against the Bengals. It was Andrew Luck’s first game in over a year and while the former first overall pick played well, it wasn’t enough to stop Cincinnati. From there, the Colts hit the road to take on the Washington Redskins. This was Indianapolis’ first win of the season and as it would turn out, only win in the first six weeks. After the victory against the Redskins, the Colts lost four in a row against the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, New England Patriots and New York Jets. The Colts lost all but one of those games by just a one-score margin.
Down but not out, although they may as well have been eliminated from playoff contention after week 6, the Colts strung together five wins to bring their record over .500 for the first time all year. This happened in week 12, at which point Indianapolis’ postseason hopes were alive, but still somewhat hanging by a thread. Then things started to happen and all of the scenarios that the Colts needed, came to pass. The biggest being last week when the Pittsburgh Steelers fell out of playoff contention with a loss against the New Orleans Saints. That meant that the Colts, who have won eight of their last nine and really are one of the hottest teams in football, only have to win their final game of the year to reach the playoffs. It is a destination that no one likely expected after the 1-5 start but Indianapolis never gave up on their dreams or themselves and as a result, the playoffs are well within reach.
Titans Season Recap
Much like their AFC South opponents, the Titans opened the year with a loss against the Miami Dolphins. Also like the Colts, the Titans followed the loss up with a week two win against the Texans. But there is where the two teams and their records began to differ. Indianapolis lost their next three whereas Tennessee won their next two against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Eagles. Then, another shift as while the Colts went on a four-game winning streak, following the 3-1 start, the Titans went on a three-game losing streak.
Heading into week eight for their bye, the Titans were 3-4 and the Colts 3-5. After week 11, it was 5-5 for the Colts and 5-5 for the Titans. The two were neck-and-neck and really continued to be for the second half of the season. Much like Indianapolis, the Titans have won their last four in a row and hold their fate in their own hands.
Our Preview’s Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
There are only three words now that matter to both the Colts and Titans: win and in.
It’s not all that often that a season comes down to this. Entering tonight’s Sunday game, seven of eight playoff teams will have been decided with the final spot being on the line in the season’s final game. The slate of games scheduled for week 17 feature several with playoff implications but none more so than the Colts/Titans.
Earlier we mentioned the return of Andrew Luck, this year’s Comeback Player of the Year. Entering this season, Luck had last taken an NFL in-game snap in 2016. There was always a question of how he would come back and if he would be able to return to the form of his first few years in the league. What Luck ended up doing however, was even better.
In 2018, Luck put up the best numbers of his career, setting highs in completions, completion percentage, QBR and rating. He has thrown for 4,308 yards so far, which is just shy of the second highest in his career and has 36 touchdowns as well, which is also second best. Luck has enjoyed a great return and that includes his performance against the Titans when these two teams met last month. Luck threw for three touchdowns, almost 300 yards and zero interceptions. It was his best game of the year as far as QBR and rating are concerned.
This is really nothing new though as throughout his career, Luck has dominated the Titans. In fact, he is 10-0 against them and 4-0 against Marcus Mariota, the team’s current QB. He holds a 97.2 rating and has thrown 18 touchdowns in those 10 games as well.
Luck against the Titans is almost a formality. Couple that with the fact that Mariota’s status is in doubt and that the Colts are playing as good as any team in the league on offense, defense and special teams, and it’s hard to imagine the Titans pull this one out. That is my view despite the fact that the game is being played in Tennessee. So here are the Indianapolis Colts vs Tennessee predictions for this preview:
- Look for the Colts to cover the 4.5 to 5-point spread they are favored by with the biggest USA online sports betting companies. The best option is to bet Indianapolis -4.5pts @ -110 with Intertops. It is -5pts with Bovada (-105) and BetOnline (-110).
- If you want a wager on the likely total points that will be scored in this vital NFL matchup, we would go over 43.5pts @ -110 with either Bovada or Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.