2018 Colts Preview: Colts/Titans, Week 17

2018_1118_TEN_3205

INDIANAPOLIS — This is it. Win, and you're in. Lose, and you go home. Although the 2018 NFL postseason technically haven't started yet, this week is an unofficial playoff game for the Indianapolis Colts (9-6) and Tennessee Titans (9-6).

With this much on the line, the NFL decided to flex this matchup to 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday Night Football from its regularly-scheduled 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff in Nashville.

Here is everything that you'll need to know as the Colts and Titans battle in of their biggest matchups in their history.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Dec. 30 at 8:20 p.m. ET
  • Nashville, Tenn.; Nissan Stadium
  • TV: NBC (Sunday Night Football) — Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color) and Michele Tafoya (sideline)
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, check here
  • Radio: WFNI “1070 The Fan” and WLHK “HANK FM” — Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Jim Sorgi (color) and Caroline Cann (sideline) | Westwood One — Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) and Jason Taylor (color)

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 32-15 (0-1 in the playoffs), and are 11-5 against the Titans at Nissan Stadium. The Titans have won two of the last three dating back to 2017.
  • Last game — Week 11 of 2018. The Colts won, 38-10.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Titans:

  • HC Mike Vrabel
  • OC Matt LaFleur
  • DC Dean Pees
  • STC Craig Aukerman

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Won vs. New York Giants (5-10), 28-27

Titans:

  • Won vs. Washington Redskins (7-8), 25-16

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • TE Eric Ebron (concussion, knee): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Wednesday, limited participant Thursday, full participant Friday
  • WR Daurice Fountain (ankle): OUT — Limited participant Wednesday, did not practice Thursday and Friday
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • CB Nate Hairston (hip): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Thursday, did not practice Friday
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • WR Dontrelle Inman (shoulder): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Wednesday, limited participant Thursday, full participant Friday
  • C Ryan Kelly (neck): OUT — Did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • WR Zach Pascal (knee): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Wednesday, did not practice Thursday and Friday
  • DE Jabaal Sheard (teeth/knee): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Wednesday and Thursday, did not practice Friday

Titans:

  • QB Marcus Mariota (neck, foot): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Wednesday, limited participant Thursday and Friday
  • LB Brian Orakpo (elbow): OUT — Did not practice Wednesday, limited participant Thursday and Friday

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Status Of Marcus Mariota, Jurrell Casey — Officially questionable, Mariota's status is up in the air for Sunday, as he left Sunday's game with a stinger on his right side. The last time the Colts faced the Titans, Mariota was knocked out of the game with an injury then as well. Whether the Colts face Mariota or Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, they have experience against both (with plenty of film) this season. Titans Pro Bowl defensive tackle Casey (knee) was also placed on season-ending Injured Reserve this week.
  • Derrick Henry's Dominance — Titans running back Henry has been on an unbelievable stretch lately, accumulating 545 yards of offense and eight touchdowns over the last four games, so the Colts will obviously need to prepare for that. They have, however, held some elite runners in check lately, limiting Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley to 130 yards on 39 carries (3.3 avg).
  • Win The Defensive Battle Up Front — The Titans' offensive line struggles to protect the passer, whether that be Mariota or Gabbert, as they've given up the seventh-most sacks in the league (47). The Colts have done quite well in matchups against team who are near the bottom of the league in sacks given up, getting to the quarterback 24 times in nine such games.
  • Weighing Impact Of Corey Davis Or Titans Tight Ends — The Colts have done a great job of shutting down top receivers lately, as Amari Cooper and DeAndre Hopkins combined for eight catches for 66 yards and a touchdown against them, for example. However, the Colts allowed Giants receiver Sterling Shepard to gash them for 110 yards in the first half last week alone. In the Colts' and Titans' previous meeting, Tennessee's top receiver, Corey Davis had just two catches for 30 yards while the tight ends combined for 12 catches for 123 yards. The tight ends had a nice showing while Davis did not, but it resulted in a 28-point win for the Colts. Can that be replicated this week?
  • The Ultimate Motivation — In a winner-take-all game, no one should need help getting motivated for this one. Look for a huge effort from both sides in what should turn out to be a great game.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Titans CB Adoreé Jackson — While matched up against Jackson in Week 11, Hilton caught all eight of his targets for 146 yards and both of his touchdowns. Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees' simple advice to Jackson this week? "Don't get burned."
  • Colts RDE Tyquan Lewis vs. Titans LT Taylor Lewan — This is an Ohio State-Michigan matchup that pits one of the league's better left tackles in Lewan against an impressive, up-and-coming defensive lineman in Lewis.
  • Colts DTs Denico Autry/Margus Hunt vs. Titans IOL Quinton Spain/Ben Jones/Josh Cline — Spain (62.5) and Cline (55.9) have rough grades as a group according to Pro Football Focus, and Autry and Hunt have had periods of sheer dominance this season. The Colts could really use the pair playing at a high level in a good matchup this week.
  • Colts CB Pierre Desir vs. Titans WR Corey Davis — Desir often finds himself in tough matchups against opposing receivers, and he almost always answers the call. This week is no different, as Davis is a talented, lengthy receiver.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Andrew Luck (4,308 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (789 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (1,209 yards)
  • Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron (13)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (155)
  • Sacks — DT Denico Autry (9.0)
  • Interceptions — S Malik Hooker, CB Kenny Moore II (2)

Titans:

  • Passing — QB Marcus Mariota (2,528 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Derrick Henry (966 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Corey Davis (843 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Derrick Henry (12)
  • Tackles — LB Wesley Woodyard (99)
  • Sacks — DT Jurrell Casey (7.0)
  • Interceptions — S Kevin Byard (4)

COMPARING 2018 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 7th (382.9 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 7th (26.7 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 6th (278.9 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — 1st (17)
  • Running offense — 21st (104.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 1st (49%)
  • Red zone offense — 4th (70.2%)
  • Total defense — 7th (326.5 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 13th (21.8 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 17th (242.7 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-14th (38)
  • Running defense — 8th (102.2 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 27th (42%)
  • Red zone defense — 11th (53.5%)
  • Time of possession — 24th (29:24)
  • Turnover differential — 15th (+1)

Titans:

  • Total offense — 26th (316.0 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — Tied-26th (19.5 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 29th (187.3 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — 26th (47)
  • Running offense — 5th (128.7 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 10th (41%)
  • Red zone offense — 22nd (53.2%)
  • Total defense — 11th (344.9 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 2nd (18.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 6th (212.9 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-14th (38)
  • Running defense — 14th (113.7 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 7th (36%)
  • Red zone defense — 2nd (42.5%)
  • Time of possession — 20th (30:27)
  • Turnover differential — 18th (0)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • This week, the Colts made the following moves: Signed TE Erik Swoope to the practice squad and waived S Rolan Milligan.
  • Colts QB Andrew Luck needs 24 pass attempts (628) and 454 passing yards (4,762) to set new career highs in each. He also needs one rushing touchdown to pass Bert Jones (14) for the second-most among quarterbacks in franchise history.
  • Hilton needs two receiving touchdowns to set a new career high (8). With one receiving touchdown, he would pass Jim Mutscheller (40) for the seventh-most in franchise history. With two receiving touchdowns, Hilton would also pass Raymond Berry and Dallas Clark (41) for the third-most in a player's first seven seasons in franchise history.
  • Colts TE Eric Ebron needs 22 receiving yards (712) and 31 scrimmage yards (713) to set new career highs in each. With one touchdown reception, he will tie Tyler Eifert (2015), Billy Howton (1952), Vernon Davis (2009, 2013), Antonio Gates (2004) and Ken Kavanaugh (1947) for the ninth-most touchdown receptions (13) by a tight end in a single season in NFL history. He will also pass Marvin Harrison (1999, 2005, 2006) and Reggie Wayne (2004) for the fifth-most receiving touchdowns in single-season franchise history. With one touchdown from scrimmage, he will pass Davis (2009, 2013), Eifert (2015) and Gates (2004) for the third-most scrimmage touchdowns (13) by a tight end in a single season in NFL history. He will also tie Alyn Beals (1948) and Raymond Berry (1959) for the seventh-most scrimmage touchdowns (14) by a tight end in a single season in NFL history. With two touchdown receptions, he will tie Mal Kutner (1948), Berry (1959) and Beals (1948) for the sixth-most touchdown receptions (14) by a tight end in a single season in NFL history. He will also tie Berry (1959) and Harrison (2000) for the third-most receiving touchdowns (14) in single-season franchise history. With two touchdowns from scrimmage, he will tie Cloyce Box (1952) and Kutner (1948) for the fifth-most scrimmage touchdowns (15) by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.
  • RB Nyheim Hines needs one reception to pass Austin Collie (60 in 2009) for the fourth-most receptions by a Colts rookie since 1970, three receptions to pass Edgerrin James (62 in 1999) for third, five receptions to pass Marvin Harrison (64 in 1996) for second, and six receptions to pass Bill Brooks (65 in 1986) for first.
  • LB Darius Leonard needs four tackles to pass Mike Peterson (158 in 2000) for the second-most tackles in a single season in franchise history (according to Stats Pass), and six tackles to pass Jeff Herrod (160 in 1991) for first.
  • K Adam Vinatieri will become just the fourth player in NFL history to play in a game at the age of 46 or older by making an appearance Sunday, joining George Blanda (48), Morten Andersen (47) and John Carney (46). Vinatieri would also pass Jeff Feagles (352) for the third-most games played in NFL history by appearing Sunday, and would pass Justin Snow and Robert Mathis (192) for the seventh-most games played in team history. After completing the regular season, it will be Vinatieri's 13th with the Colts, which ties for the fifth-longest tenure in franchise history. With one field goal made from 50-plus yards, Vinatieri will pass Phil Dawson and John Kasay (42) for the fourth-most made from that distance in NFL history.
  • Colts head coach Frank Reich on preparing for either Titans quarterback Mariota or Gabbert: “You know what, we are just going to kind of prepare for their system more or less. (Blaine) Gabbert is also a pretty athletic guy. I don’t think they are that dramatically different as far as the style of their play and kind of the skillset that they have. I think they are both good quarterbacks, both really athletic. Obviously, (Marcus) Mariota is elite athletic, but Gabbert is pretty athletic himself. I think we will just focus in there.”
  • Reich on if the Colts have an advantage having beat the Titans in Week 11: “Yeah, it’s all out the window. We are on the road. They are playing good football. This is again, another top-ranked defense. I think they rank in the top-10 in 10 out of 13 categories that we look at. I mean they are really good. They don’t beat themselves. I think they lead the league in fewest penalties, they don’t turn the ball over. This is a very, very good football team.”

AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) (Oakland Raiders [4-11])
  2. New England Patriots (10-5) (New York Jets [4-11])
  3. Houston Texans (10-5) (Jacksonville Jaguars [5-10])
  4. Baltimore Ravens (9-6) (Cleveland Browns [7-7-1])
  5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) (@ Denver Broncos [6-9])
  6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) (@ Tennessee Titans [9-6])
  7. Tennessee Titans (9-6) (Indianapolis Colts [9-6])
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) (Cincinnati Bengals [6-9])

*Clinched playoff spot.

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