Tennessee Titans (5-4) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
A week ago, both of these teams were high on my underrated list. The Colts are much healthier after being one of the most injury plagued teams in the league for the first half of the season and have a positive point differential and first down rate differential, despite a losing record, while the Titans now have a capable offense to complement their strong defense, with quarterback Marcus Mariota returning to form after suffering an elbow injury week 1 that limited him for most of the first half of the season.
The Colts were only 2.5-point favorites against the Jaguars last week, so I made a big play on them. The final margin was only 3 points, but they jumped out to a big first half lead, overall won the first down rate battle by 3.40%, and could easily have better days ahead with their roster close to full strength. Because the final score was not that impressive, the Colts remain an underrated team and could easily be one of the better teams in the AFC from here on out. Andrew Luck looks as good as he ever has, while their offensive line, running game, and defense have all been pleasant surprises this year, after years of struggling in those aspects of the game. On the season, they rank 14th in first down rate differential at +1.13% and they are now as healthy as they’ve been all year.
On the other side, I did not pick the Titans last week because it’s typically not a good idea to bet against the Patriots once they get on a mid-season roll, but the Titans were able to overcome that and pull off a shocking blowout upset victory. Despite beating the Patriots, I still think the Titans are an underrated team, as much of the conversation around that game is about how the sky is supposedly falling for New England, rather than about how the Titans are legitimate contenders with a healthy Mariota. Their defense ranks 5th in the NFL, allowing opponents to pick up a first down or touchdown on just 32.55% of their snaps, and so they could easily be a very dangerous team in the second half of the season if they get even decent play from their offense.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost line value with the Titans in the past week, as obviously their home upset win over the Patriots got a lot more attention than the Colts’ win over the Jaguars. Favored by a field goal a week ago, the Colts are now just 2-point favorites, a big shift, considering 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Now as 2-point favorites, the Colts basically just have to win at home to cover this line.
I have these two teams about even (the Titans are one spot higher in my roster rankings), so we’re getting some line value with the Colts. The Colts are also in a better spot, as the Titans could be a little flat after such a big victory last week (teams are 38-50 ATS since 2002 after a home win as underdogs of 6+). That being said, there isn’t enough here for the Colts to be worth betting against a good Tennessee team. The most likely outcome here is an Indianapolis win by a field goal, but Tennessee pulling out the minor “upset” is certainly a strong possibility as well.
Indianapolis Colts 23 Tennessee Titans 20
Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -2