Tennessee Titans (5-6 SU, 6-3-2 ATS)
Tennessee staggered into Oakland last week after dropping four of their previous five and sauntered out with a victory after a 10-yard TD strike from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Kendall Wright in the closing seconds of the game. It was a crucial 23-19 victory which had their fans celebrating and their backers cashing with the Titans covering the all-important number as 2 ½ point road chalk in NFL odds.
The win over the Raiders kept the Titans playoff hopes alive despite a sub .500 record but it also established an aerial dynamic that was missing from the offense. For the first time since 2004 the Titans had a 300-yard passer and two receivers each garnering more than 100 yards through the air. Ryan Fitzpatrick connected on 30-of-42 with two touchdowns and 320 yards passing while Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright hauled in north of 100 yards and each found the endzone courtesy of Fitzpatrick.
The Titans boast the 8th best passing defense, surrendering just 217.4 yards per game, but in all other aspects they are statistically middle-of-the-packers. Not surprising when you consider their record itself is mediocre. But the mercurial running back Chris Johnson has yet to yield dividends since holding out a few years ago. Once that contract was signed, Johnson's performance has decidedly dipped. Yet again he failed to reach the endzone last week and gained only 73 yards on 20 carries. Head coach Mike Munchak has not given up on Johnson and continues to give him a healthy workload week in and week out.
Indianapolis Colts (7-4 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
The Colts got drilled in the desert last Sunday to the tune of a 40-11 thrashing at the hands of the Cardinals. Andrew Luck had no luck trying to crack the core of a ferocious Arizona defense. The second year signal caller was limited to just 163 yards of passing with one TD and one pick which was returned for a touchdown. It was the second lowest passing total of his career and certainly some of the blame can be placed on his porous offensive line who had trouble protecting him even when the Cardinals were in pass coverage.
As anemic as the Indianapolis offense was, the defense was positively helpless. Carson Palmer blitzed the Colts defense for 314 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts have had issues all season on the defensive side of the ball, currently ranked 19th against the pass and 27th defending the run. Over their last seven games they have allowed an average of almost 30 points per game which indicates this defensive unit is getting worn down as the season wears on.
As I peruse the odds for our NFL picks, I can't help but think only a few weeks ago the Colts were installed as three-point road chalk when they faced Tennessee for the first time this season only to lose 30-27. Fast forward two weeks and coming off an embarrassing performance against the Cards, the Colts are merely 4 point favorites at home against these same group of Titans.
Here's the deal. The Colts are overvalued because of their wins over Denver and San Francisco in addition to be quarterbacked by a young man who has all the tools to take over the mantle as the next great passer in the NFL. But the deal is that their defense has gotten shellacked recently and they're regressing not progressing. I say the Titans have the bodies and the talent to hang around with the Colts primarily because Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing error-free football and developing a nice chemistry with his corps of receivers.