So it all comes down to this. It really did have to be Andrew Luck and the Colts, didn’t it?
The Titans and Colts will play on Sunday night in a ‘win-and-you’re-in’ situation in Nashville. For Tennessee, they’ll have to find a way to beat a guy they’ve never been able to beat in Andrew Luck.
The Colts’ quarterback has had the Titans’ number so far in his career, boasting a perfect record against Tennessee and picking up right where Peyton Manning left off. Now armed with what appears to be a legitimate coaching staff and a young, emerging defense, he appears tougher to beat than ever.
There’s plenty of uncertainty coming into this one for the Titans, beginning with quarterback Marcus Mariota. He suffered a stinger last week against Washington and left the game at halftime. After admitting that his entire right side went numb during the injury, Mariota hit the practice field on Thursday in limited fashion. It was at least a step in the right direction for Mariota, but we’ll see how the rest of the week plays out. It certainly feels like he’s going to at least give it a go.
The other piece of news for the Titans is that they’ll be without Jurrell Casey, who went down late in that Redskins contest. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will have to really scheme up some pressure to get Luck out of his comfort zone.
With those two factors in mind, Vegas has placed the Colts as three point favorites. They’ve placed the total at 44 points.
From a Titans perspective, this game will be won or lost up front. Indianapolis crushed Tennessee’s offensive line a few weeks back, eventually knocking Marcus Mariota out of the game. The offensive line will have to win consistently and produce some room for Derrick Henry to operate on Sunday night. Unfortunately for the Titans, the Colts have shut down Saquon Barkley and somewhat held Ezekiel Elliott in consecutive weeks.
Can a banged up Marcus Mariota keep pace with an Andrew Luck led offense? The obvious answer is no, but stranger things have happened in the NFL. With the Music City Bowl happening on Friday and some potential rain moving in for Sunday night, the playing surface might not exactly be suited for Indy’s passing attack. Toss in the fact that it’s a primetime slot in front of a sold out crowd — that’s a pretty tough environment for the Colts.
Now would be a heck of a time for the Titans to finally get over the hump and beat Luck.