The Week 17 NFL schedule concludes with a do-or-die Sunday night matchup between the Colts and Titans. For this game and every postseason contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 17 Sunday Night Football Betting Odds
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
NFL Week 17 Sunday Night Football Breakdown
It all comes down to tonight for both these teams and their 2018-19 playoff hopes.
The Colts come into this road game as winners of eight of their last nine. The lone exception was a 6-0 dud at Jacksonville. It’s worth noting Indy is 3-4 on the road, and the Titans are 6-1 at home this year. However, the Colts are 4-3 against the spread and can be expected to play well with their season on the line.
Andrew Luck closes out the regular season as one of the hottest QBs in the league. Besides his dud in Jacksonville, he owns a 20:5 TD:INT ratio and 112.7 passer rating over the Colts’ last eight wins. Luck also torched this Titans defense for 297 yards and 3 TDs while completing 23-of-29 passes in a 38-10 beatdown in Week 10.
Tonight, Tennessee will be without elite DT Jurell Casey (knee), excellent slot CB Logan Ryan (leg), and strong OLB Brian Orakpo (elbow). Despite facing weak QBs, Tennessee has struggled in pass defense recently and will be hard-pressed to stop Luck and his weapons with those key players out.
T.Y. Hilton should remain the focal point of Indy’s passing attack. He went off for a 9-155-2TD line in the Week 10 game. Hilton is capable of producing in this spot despite his list of minor injuries and historically poor road splits.
Tennessee ranks 29th in DVOA pass defense against No. 2 receivers and 30th against passes over the middle of the field. Ryan’s absence leaves the Titans even more vulnerable in that area, giving Hilton and slot WR Chester Rogers a good floor-ceiling combination in DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Eric Ebron will return from a concussion to at least draw coverage away from those receivers. He didn’t manage a catch in Week 10 because the Titans are elite against TEs. Still, Ebron is a big weapon in the red zone and has become a far more consistent piece of the Colts offense with Jack Doyle (kidney) on I.R.
Since the Titans often gameplan to remove the opposition’s top offensive player, Hilton could see bracket coverage at times. That would open up opportunities for Ebron, Rogers, Zach Pascal, and even Dontrelle Inman to catch passes from Luck’s accurate arm.
The injured Jurell Casey was the No. 2 rated defensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus this year. Thus, it’s a huge loss. Tennessee has been slightly above average against the run with him in the lineup but was pulverized for 281 rushing yards by Houston the week after yielding 102 to the Colts’ ground attack.
Marlon Mack is operating as Indy’s primary ball carrier with a solid 4.6 YPC average. Nyheim Hines is handling most receiving duties from the backfield with 25 targets over his last four. The Titans rank second in DVOA pass defense against RBs. With that in mind, Hines will likely be a factor only if Indy falls behind.
The most important element of the Colts offense is Andrew Luck’s sheer intelligence. The Titans rank second in PPG allowed and seventh in opponent’s drive success rate (DSR) by confusing opposing passers. Clearly, Luck was not confused when these teams met in Week 10. We’ll see if he has the answers to the test in a raucous environment on the road.
If Marcus Mariota (stinger) is unable to play or limited, the Titans would appear doomed in this matchup.
Tennessee’s offense has exclusively run through Derrick Henry recently. He’s handled 81 carries and scored seven of the Titans last eight touchdowns. The big RB managed 46 yards on just nine carries against the Colts in Week 10 and should be more of a factor in a closer contest. Henry averages 5.7 YPC at home this season.
However, the Colts defense has been fantastic lately. They’ve held three opponents under 200 yards passing and three under 100 yards rushing (Titans included in both lists) over their last six games. Indy now ranks fifth in DVOA rush defense and allows the sixth-lowest YPC (3.8) this season. For one thing, rookie LB Darius Leonard has been a tackling machine. What’s more, the Colts’ Cover 2-based scheme is shutting down receiving threats while leaving the middle of the field somewhat vulnerable to backs and tight ends.
Hence, Dion Lewis should be heavily involved in the Titans’ game plan and will see more work if they fall behind. With Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith both done for the year, MyCole Pruitt and rookie Anthony Firkser will look to exploit that defensive scheme from the TE position.
Now, Blaine Gabbert was effective in relief of Mariota against Washington’s broken pass defense. But he’s just not a playoff-caliber QB and not capable of putting much pressure on Indy. If active, Mariota may look to lean on his legs more often than his ailing throwing arm, but the Colts’ scheme is adept at containing running QBs. They’ve allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards (182) to the position this year.
NFL Week 17 Picks
Regardless who is under center for the Titans, they will look to slow this game down in a battle of contrasting styles.
Tennessee ranks 30th in pace, and Indy plays at the fastest pace in the NFL. The Titans are 29th in pace when trailing by seven or more points and virtually incapable of overcoming early deficits with their lackluster offense.
The Titans have the most efficient red zone defense in the league, but Luck has Indy scoring the fourth-most TDs (.707) per red zone trip this year. Both teams are top five in terms of TD/FG ratio in the red zone, so we’re expecting a bit of an odd score that could stay Under (43.5) the low total.
We’re ultimately taking the Colts (-4.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook) with reasonable confidence, though we were able to book them at -3 just two days ago. Luck is one of the most intelligent players in the NFL, and Frank Reich is one of the best offensive coaches early in his tenure.
The public and sharps expect that tandem to stay hot and will the Colts into the playoffs, as approximately 75 percent of bets and money are on Indy to cover on the road.