It’s still hard to fathom how the Tennessee Titans lost to the New York Jets in Week 4. Since falling to one of the NFL’s bottom feeders, the Titans have won three consecutive games, including back-to-back wins against the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
“We feel like we can beat any team in this league,” safety Kevin Byard told the Tennessean. “No disrespect to media, the world, anybody around, we’re not trying to prove anybody wrong. We’re trying to prove ourselves right, because we know who we are in this building.”
The next test for a confident Tennessee side (5-2) is a key divisional matchup, visiting the Indianapolis Colts (3-4).
The two teams met in Week 3, with the Titans outscoring the Colts 11-3 in the fourth quarter to pick up a 25-16 win. Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, who leads the NFL in rushing with 869 yards, ran for 113 yards in the win. DraftKings gives Henry -400 odds to lead the NFL in rushing this season.
Henry’s MVP odds sit at +1600, according to BetMGM, which makes him the favorite among non-quarterbacks. Even though Henry tried his hand at quarterback last week and threw a touchdown pass, he still lags behind seven quarterbacks when it comes to best MVP odds.
"You've got to be a quarterback to win MVP."
Derrick Henry: ok I can do that
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) October 24, 2021
Indianapolis, like Tennessee, comes into the game surging. The Colts have won three of their last four games, and the team’s only loss during that stretch was a 31-25 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts led 22-3 before Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson engineered a furious comeback.
Both teams are 5-2 against the spread this season. The only teams that entered the week with better ATS records were Arizona, Green Bay and Dallas.
Vegas expects a close game
The last four meetings between the teams were decided by 9 points or more, but sportsbooks expect a competitive Sunday showdown. BetMGM, Caesars, DrafKings, FanDuel, WynnBET, and PointsBet all list the Titans as 2.5-point road underdogs.
The spread is tied for the smallest of any NFL matchup this week.
“Despite impressive wins over Buffalo and Kansas City, we still have Tennessee rated similarly to Indianapolis,” said Kevin Hennessy, director of publicity for FanDuel Group.
Bettors can take the Titans moneyline at anywhere from +120 to +125 at major sportsbooks. Tennessee is +120 on BetMGM. WynnBET and PointsBet offer the Titans at +125.
It’s an important game for both sides. A win gives the Titans a commanding three-game lead in the AFC South. For Indianapolis, a win keeps it in the divisional race and boosts its playoff hopes. Indianapolis is currently +125 to make the playoffs, per DraftKings.
There are six 3-4 teams in the NFL right now:
Since 1990, 18% of 3-4 teams made the playoffs.
Jumps to 32% for 4-4 teams
Drops to 9% for 3-5 teams
— Andrew Doughty (@DoughtyBetMGM) October 27, 2021
Carson Wentz regains form
Colts quarterback Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate in 2017 until going down with injury. The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback posted strong seasons in 2018 and 2019, but his 2020 season was a struggle. He tossed a career-high 15 interceptions in 13 games and posted a completion percentage below 60% for the only time in his career.
Philadelphia decided to move on from Wentz after the season, trading the signal caller to Indianapolis for a pair of draft picks.
Wentz has played well in his new city. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns compared to just one interception, and he’s added another touchdown on the ground. He’s averaging 7.7 yards per attempt, which would tie a career-high mark if it holds up. Since Week 4, Wentz has the second-highest QBR in the NFL, according to ESPN.
“Wentz has turned in a few solid performances in a row and that factors into the Colts rating a bit, though we still have him rated as a slightly below average quarterback,” Hennessy said. “FanDuel customers are warming up to the Colts based on his recent play.”
An efficient Wentz coupled with a dynamic running attack led by Jonathan Taylor makes the Colts a capable offense. The over/under for the matchup is at 51 points at most sportsbooks, although BetMGM offers a total of 50.5.
Slowing down Wentz will be key for the Titans, who corralled the quarterback in Week 3 in a game with 41 combined points. The early season meeting with Tennessee is the only time this season Wentz hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass. He averaged a season-worst 5.2 yards per attempt in the loss.
“We saw most of the money for Indy against San Francisco on Sunday night, but the positive view of Wentz and the Colts doesn’t look like it will be enough to keep customers away from the Titans this weekend,” Hennessy said.
Photo: Andrew Nelles/Tennessean.com