Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
The Colts lost last week at home to the Jets, but they are 14-2 ATS in the Andrew Luck/Chuck Pagano era off of a loss. I mentioned their dominance off of a loss in recent years last week and it didn’t work out for me, but I still like their chances of bouncing back this week for a number of reasons. Last week’s game did show the Jets to be better than most, including myself, thought they were. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues his solid play from the past 2 years, despite his age, and is arguably the best quarterback the Jets have had since Chad Pennington was healthy, while first year head coach Todd Bowles has the defense playing well. That game also showed the Colts to be worse than most thought, as they have serious issues on the offensive line and on defense, especially with several significant injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Greg Toler and Darius Butler remain out for this game and those are their #2 and #3 cornerbacks, while top defensive lineman Arthur Jones was knocked out for the season before it even began.
However, there were also a lot of fluky elements to the Jets’ win in Indianapolis. The Jets won the turnover battle by 4, which tends to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Teams who have a -4 turnover margin have, on average, a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week. The Colts are -7 in turnovers on the season, but that should improve going forward and that will have a noticeable effect in the standings and on the scoreboard. They also get Vontae Davis back from injury, after he missed more than half of last week’s loss with a concussion he suffered mid-game. He’s hands down their best defensive player and more important to this team than anyone other than Andrew Luck, so him being knocked out was a big deal.
Besides, 0-2 teams that made the playoffs the previous year are usually a safe bet, as they’ve gone 18-9 ATS week 1 since 2002. The Colts have never lost 3 straight regular season games in the Andrew Luck/Chuck Pagano era and I don’t expect that to happen this week. In fact, I expect the Colts to bounce back in a very big way. The Titans are also in a bad spot, playing their first home game of the season week 3. Teams that have their first home game week 3 tend to be less energized and it shows, as teams in that situation are 22-43 ATS since 1989.
On top of that, the Colts have always taken care of business in the division over the past few years. A 10-12 team outside of the division since 2013, the Colts have been propped up by a 12-0 record (12-0 ATS) against their weak division. They’ve always played weak opponents, especially weak divisional opponents, well, but have struggled mightily against non-divisional opponents, especially strong non-divisional opponents. The Colts are 18-4 ATS against sub .500 teams in week 4 or later since 2012. I know the Titans are technically 1-1 and it’s only week 3, but the logic holds.
The Titans are an improved team over last year’s 2-win team, adding Brian Orakpo, Da’Norris Searcy, and Perrish Cox on defense and Marcus Mariota on offense, but they’re still the type of opponent the Colts usually beat easily, especially with top offensive lineman Chance Warmack out with injury. I am concerned about Trent Cole’s absence for the Colts and the Titans secretly being a solid team, but, and I know I said this last week, but I like the Colts’ chances of bouncing back in a big way this week, this time against a below average divisional opponent.
Indianapolis Colts 31 Tennessee Titans 23
Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -3.5