Week 17 Preview: Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

Intro: The Colts (7-8) regular season finale will commence on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium with the Tennessee Titans (3-12) in Indianapolis. Here’s the Week 17 Preview of the Colts and Titans meeting.

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INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday night, with the Colts about to begin a week of practice that will lead to scoreboard watching in every direction on Sunday, Chuck Pagano dialed up his older brother.

The Colts head coach has no idea all the scenarios his team must have fall their way in Week 17, but he knew John Pagano was involved.

In a nine-game sequence the Colts need to sneak into the postseason, the Chargers, where John Pagano is the defensive coordinator, need to lose.

"Tried to talk him into it. He wouldn't do it." the younger brother, Chuck Pagano, said with a laugh on Wednesday.

"He's fighting for his life. We all are."

The Colts fight includes a not so ideal situation at the NFL's most important position.

When practice commenced for the Colts this week, they had four quarterbacks practicing and another two (Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst) present for tutelage to the three newcomers at the position.

"Some of the guys thought it was Training Camp," Pagano said of the Colts having a handful of quarterbacks on the active roster, a number you never see in the regular season.

"Frank (Gore) asked me, 'Looks like we should be in Anderson.' It looks like Training Camp. We've got six red jerseys out there."

With the quarterback decision still in doubt, Pagano isn't oblivious to what the Titans are going to do from a defensive game plan.

Even Titans interim head coach Mike Mularkey doesn't feel the need to hide from how his defense will get after a Colts offense starting a quarterback who wasn't even with the team last week.

"Anybody really knows that if you got somebody in there that has just a few days of an install and really minimum experience that running the ball is the best option," Mularkey says.

"That's what you do if you get down to an emergency quarterback. That's really your only option is to run the football."

The Colts only option on Sunday to see their season extend another week is win. Then the cheering will spread to the Jaguars, Bills, Dolphins, Ravens, Steelers, Broncos, Raiders and Falcons.

Lisening to the Colts head coach this week, you wouldn't think the odds are so stacked against his team.

"We wouldn't want it any different," a grinning Pagano said.

"I love it. No, I love it. It's so perfect. Perfect storm. I just can't wait to see what last chapter holds when it gets written 4:30 (p.m.) on Sunday. It'll be awesome."**

INTERESTING MATCHUPSTitans quarterback Zach Mettenberger versus the Colts defense: Sunday will be Zach Mettenberger's 10th career NFL start. He's 0-9 as a starter and the Titans have averaged 13.1 points per game in those contests. The Colts pass rush has struck gold in recent weeks with 12 sacks in the past three games.Colts running back Frank Gore versus the Titans defensive front:With a new quarterback under center, the Colts know the Titans will be stacking the box on Sunday afternoon. Tennessee ranks eighth in the NFL in rushing yards given up per play and will be out to keep Frank Gore from being the main producer for the Colts offense, like he was last week. Gore is 109 rushing yards short of having a ninth 1,000 season.

QUICK FACTS**

  • The Colts have won eight in a row against the Titans and 13 of their last 14.
  • Colts running back Frank Gore is 109 rushing yards short of 1,000 on the season.
  • Colts wide receiver Andre Johnson needs one catch to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,050 for his career.
  • Titans backup quarterback Alex Tanney spent a chunk of this season on the Colts practice squad.
  • Titans tight end Delaine Walker has 85 catches on the season, 49 more than the next Titans player.
  • The Titans are third in the NFL in recording a sack once every 7.6 passing plays. NOTABLE QUOTES
    Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano

(on maintaining a steady approach through all the adversity):

"You could ask the guys, could ask the coaches, but we try to stay pretty steady around here. It's not when you win games, 'Hey, everything's hunky-dory.' When you lose games, they don't who's going to show up to work. That's not me. That's not these coaches. Glass is basically always half-full. I always try to find the positives in everything. Again, we're still sitting here alive and breathing and we have an opportunity. We've got a damn good football team coming in here who would like nothing better than to end their season on a winning note. I told the players this morning that if they think that team is going to come in here and do anything but give us everything that they've got, they're fooling themselves and they're setting themselves up for you know what. You prepare accordingly, and so we'll do that. This is who we are. This is how we roll."

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano

(on the importance of getting Frank Gore to 1,000 yards, he is at 891 right now):

"You ask him and the rest of the guys, the most important thing is the win and then if we can somehow, someway muster up, I think it's 109 yards somewhere around there. To have a 1,000-yard rusher, icing on the cake. No. 1 goal: win the football game by any means necessary and then if that happens, that'd be phenomenal."

Colts Outside Linebacker Robert Mathis

(on what to play for in Week 17):

"When you touch the field you have something to play for so you go out and be professional and you want to win at all costs. That's what we're playing for and that's the game plan."

Titans Interim Head Coach Mike Mularkey

(on preparing for so many quarterbacks this week with the Colts):

"It's difficult. I'll admit that. I'm not sure I've been in a situation quite like this: either, or (laughs). A mixed variety. We're going to kind of plan on who we think has got the best chance to start and then adjust from there. Really that's our plan."

Titans Interim Head Coach Mike Mularkey

(on once again playing a team still with playoff hopes):

"It's interesting. The last five weeks of the season we have been playing teams that are all in a fight right there at the end to make the playoffs. We know we are going to get the best they have. There is nothing they can do about what happens in those million other scenarios. All they can do is control what they want to do. Our guys understand that. We know we are going to get their best shot and the plan is to give them our best shot."

Titans Tight End Delaine Walker

(on if there's something extra this week with playing the Colts, a division rival):

"Most definitely. Last week we had a tough loss where we didn't play so well. We have to make up from that game from last week. Again, like you said, the Colts have been struggling a little bit too. At this point they are trying to get into the postseason. We're going to go up there and try to make that difficult for them and I think that's the mindset for everyone in this locker room."

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