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NFL Thursday Night Football marks the first time the Tennessee Titans (4-5, 2-3 home) will meet their divisional rival Indianapolis Colts (6-3, 3-1 away) this year; they play again just two weeks later. The Colts are a three point favorite at 5 dimes sportsbook despite last week's 38-8 disaster loss at home against the lowly St. Louis Rams. After starting the year 3-1, the Titans are 1-4 in their last five games. Despite that, they are only 2 games behind Indianapolis, so this is an important game that is not as easy as it appears.
Titans QB Jake Locker is likely gone for the year after sustaining a foot injury last week. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a more than capable replacement and fared well last week; he went 22/33 for 264 YDs and 2 TDs. RB Chris Johnson has the ability to make his life a lot easier. The once dominant runner showed signs of a return to form when rushing for 150 YDs and 2 TDs on 23 carries two weeks ago against St. Louis, but couldn't muster anything near that against Tampa Bay. He catches a Colts team that is weak against the run, so a big effort could definitely be in order.
Controlling the football and avoiding giveaways will be pivotal for the Titans if they are to win this game. In their last three contests they have surrendered the ball to the other team a total of eight times, including four last week in a loss to the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was stripped on a potential game winning drive late in the 4th quarter and that was returned for a TD, which was the nail in Tennessee's coffin.
The Colts left Lucas Oil Stadium shell-shocked after being thumped 38-8 by the Rams, a team they should have handily defeated. QB Andrew Luck played a game that was second only to his NFL debut in terms of how bad it was. He went 29/47 for 363 YDs, 1 TD and 3 INTs, one of which was a pick 6. The Colts defense made Rams rookie WR Tavon Austin look like a star as he scorched them for 138 YDs and 2 TDs. Needless to say a better effort from the Colts as a whole will be needed if they are to get this key road win against a divisional opponent.
Fortunately for Colts backers, Andrew Luck almost always bounces back from a poor effort with a big game. Although he got rocked in his 2012 NFL debut against the Bears, he returned the following week with a 107.5 QB Rating; his best number of that season. He has shown his resilience this year as well, torching the Broncos for 3 TDs and a 99.5 QB Rating after failing to find the end zone one week prior against the Chargers.
Luck can't do it alone. RB Trent Richardson was kept under control by the Rams after being questionable and limited in practice for most of last week. If he can come back strong, the Colts chances of winning definitely increase. The Colts WR corps will have to step their game up in the absence of Reggie Wayne, who is gone for the year with a torn ACL.
The betting public thinks the Colts bounce back here as they are backing the Colts to the tune of 85% at sportsbook.com, according to their betting trends feature, which you can view by opening an account there. We agree with the public here. At a field goal or less, we're essentially just being asked to pick a straight up winner here. Our numbers suggest this one is MUCH closer than you might think. In fact, our numbers suggest this one is a toss up, which would normally have us on the home dog. But with the QB situation in Tennessee and the Colts coming off such an embarrassing loss, we'll side with them to bounce back. Colts -2.5 -125
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