Posted on December 29, 2018, by Travis Pulver
It is only fitting that the final game of the regular season has as much on the line as this one does—to the winner goes a playoff spot. Should the Texans lose to the Jaguars earlier in the day, the Colts could even win the division. So—yeah, there is a lot to play for.
Both teams are going to be motivated like they have never been motivated before.
But there could be one problem for the Titans no amount of motivation will be able to overcome. They may have to play without Marcus Mariota. Do the stand a chance without him?
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This could either be the best game of the week and a real fitting way to end the regular season or it could be a real stinker—if Mariota doesn’t play (he is expected to play but oficially ‘questionable’). He was knocked out of last week’s game against the Redskins towards the end of the first half. Blaine Gabbert came in the second half to lead the team to a win. But the Redskins were not exactly stiff competition.
The Colts are going to be a lot tougher. Defensively, they have to be the hottest team in the league. They are playing very well against the run and pass the last few weeks. On the offensive side of the ball, Andrew Luck is back to being the superstar he was before his injury and Marlon Mack appears to be the key to the running game the Colts have been needing.
As well as they are playing, the real key could be the mentality they seem to be taking into every game. They never think they are out of a game. it doesn’t matter what the deficit is or how tough the opponent is supposed to be. They find a way to overcome and win.
But it could take a lot to overcome the Titans.
Tennessee’s strength is definitely in their defense, the second-best scoring defense in the league (18 points/game allowed). They are tough against the pass (sixth) and are not bad against the run (14th). During their current four game winning streak, they have allowed just 47 points including a shutout against the Giants.
Their offense, however, could use some help—with or without Mariota. They are one of the better rushing teams in the league (fifth). But they struggle to throw the ball (29th) and put points on the board (26th; 19.5 points/game).
If a team can get on top of the Titans early, like the Colts did last time these two played, it is not hard to shut the offense down and dominate the defense. But the Colts have also struggled against good defenses and showed last week against the Giants their defense is not untouchable.
If Mariota does not play, this game is going to be terrible. The Colts are going to make it ugly—early. But assuming he does play…
Still look for the Colts to win but expect it to be a close game. Tennessee will have some success running the ball on the Colts while Andrew Luck will do Andrew Luck-type things. In the end, the Colts will win by three.
So, take Indianapolis to win but Tennessee and the points (3.5). As for the over/under (43.5), defense is going to decide this game—go with the under.