Division Power Shift
Nashville, Tennessee - The Tennessee Titans haven't faced many daunting obstacles during the best start in franchise history, but they're well aware of the challenge they face in Week 7 versus the defending AFC South champions.
On Monday night, the Titans aim to extend their unbeaten run as they match up against the visiting Indianapolis Colts, winners of five straight division titles.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the Titans -4 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on the Titans -4 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Tennessee (6-0) rolled to a 34-10 victory at Kansas City last Sunday, stretching its NFL-best winning streak to nine games dating to last season. It is the Titans' lengthiest winning streak since reeling off a franchise-record 11 straight from Oct. 17, 1993-Jan. 2, 1994, when the team was the Houston Oilers.
Though they're off to best start in the organization's 49-year existence and remain the NFL's only unbeaten team, the Titans have played a relatively soft schedule, with three of their six wins coming against opponents with losing records.
Tennessee feels that with a convincing performance against Indianapolis (3-3), which has dominated the AFC South each season since 2002, when the Titans last won the title, it will gain respect.
"A lot of people still don't respect us and feel like we haven't played top-notch talent in the league yet," safety Chris Hope said. "They're still not sure about how good we are, and what better way to show them than on Monday Night Football against Peyton Manning and the Colts, one of the premier teams in the league."
The Colts haven't been playing like one of the top clubs in the NFL lately. They're off to their worst start since opening 3-3 in 2001, when they finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs.
Indianapolis lost 34-14 at Green Bay last Sunday. Dominic Rhodes was a bright spot, rushing 20 times for 73 yards and both Colts touchdowns.
The Colts committed a season-high 12 penalties - tied for their most since 2005 - for 110 yards. They have been whistled for 46 infractions - third-most in the AFC - after being one of the least-penalized clubs during the first six years of coach Tony Dungy's tenure.
"I can't really give you one, simple answer, try to summarize what's going on," said Manning, who went 21-for-42 for 229 yards and two interceptions and finished with a 46.6 passer rating - his lowest in more than three years.
"We just need to play better," he added. "I need to play better and find a way to get into the end zone. Our offense needs to try to get the lead to help our defense out a little bit. We didn't do our job."
Indianapolis' defense is surrendering 340.2 yards per game, and has been weakened by the absence of safety Bob Sanders, who could return to practice this week. Sanders hasn't played since suffering a high right ankle sprain in Week 2 at Minnesota.
The Colts, who are also yielding 153.5 yards per game versus the run, could struggle to contain a Titans ground game that ranks fourth in the NFL with 154.5 ypg.
Against Kansas City last weekend, Tennessee amassed 455 total yards including 332 on the ground, shattering the previous team record of 296 rushing yards on Nov. 27, 1977, also versus the Chiefs.
Chris Johnson had 18 carries for 168 yards and one touchdown, and third-year pro LenDale White rushed 17 times for 149 yards and three TDs - both career bests.
"Your run game is a development of the way your team plays,'' said coach Jeff Fisher, in his 10th year at Tennessee's helm. "The backs got a lot of extra yards on their own after contact."
The Titans also continue to excel on defense, as their 66 points allowed are easily the NFL's fewest.
The Colts are 15-11 all-time against the Titans franchise. They split last season's series with the road team winning each game.
"We're going to have to play a good game to win," Dungy told the Colts' official Web site. "That's our focus right now. It's not where we are in the standings or any of that. I think we'll know to win the division or to have a chance to win the division we're going to have to win this game, but it's not really about that.
"We're at Week 7 for us and we have to play an outstanding game."
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
TENNESSEE is 8-7 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 9-6 straight up against TENNESSEE since 1992
10 of 15 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 4-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 2-2 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
4 of 4 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at TENNESSEE since 1992
TENNESSEE is 3-3 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 4-2 straight up against TENNESSEE since 1992
3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at TENNESSEE over the last 3 seasons.
TENNESSEE is 2-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 1-1 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Anthony Gonzalez injured last game, "?" - Head - 10/07/08
[CB] Marlin Jackson is "?". - Ankle - 10/09/08
[DE] Dwight Freeney injured last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/09/08
[DE] Robert Mathis is "?". - Undisclosed - 10/09/08
[S] Bob Sanders is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. - Ankle - 09/17/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
[CB] Kelvin Hayden is downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 10/08/08
[G] Dan Federkeil missed last game, "?" - Ribs - 10/05/08
[OG] Ryan Lilja expected to miss at least six weeks. - Knee - 08/09/08
[LB] Tyjuan Hagler expected to miss at least six weeks. - Pectoral - 08/02/08
[WR] Roy Hall missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/03/08
[DE] Mike Pollak expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Knee - 09/10/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
No significant injuries.
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Posted: 10/22/08 3:10 PM