Unlike last season when they needed a victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the regular-season finale to earn a playoff berth, the Tennessee Titans will not be faced with a win-or-go home scenario at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
But that doesn't mean the AFC South champs want to limp into the postseason and their bye week with a loss. Especially against a red-hot Colts team the Titans could face in the divisional playoff round.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Titans –3 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game against the Colts. Current NFL Public Betting Information shows that 65% of more than 5,837 bets for this game have been placed on the Colts +3.
The Titans (13-2) reeled off 21 unanswered points to defeat Pittsburgh 31-14 on Sunday to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but coach Jeff Fisher has already put that game behind him as they gear up for the postseason.
"This was not a statement game by no means,'' Fisher said. "It was a momentum game. We needed to build momentum for the playoffs and the bye week by playing well and winning the game. The bonus is the second game here at home."
Last season, though, the Titans defeated the Colts 16-10 in Week 17 just to earn the final wild-card spot. Indianapolis rested several key players in that game with a first-round bye already clinched, but Fisher said he will play most of his regulars.
"You play these games to win,'' he said. "That's why you don't ever go into a game without expecting or doing everything you possibly can to win it. That's the priority this week."
A win by Tennessee would clinch the NFL's best record and the franchise mark for victories in a season.
"I want to be out there. I want to play (on Sunday)," said Collins, who threw for 216 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. "Certainly, I don't want too much time between now and our first playoff game. Without knowing what Jeff is thinking, like I said, I want to be out there. Obviously, it's probably not going to be for the whole game. But I definitely feel like I would benefit from being out there."
Collins threw for 193 yards in Tennessee's 31-21 win over Indianapolis on Oct. 27, but Vince Young is expected to see his first action since Nov. 27, when he completed his lone pass for 54 yards in the Titans' 47-10 win over Detroit on Nov. 27. Young completed 14-of-18 for 157 yards against the Colts in the 2007 finale before aggravating his right quadriceps and being replaced by Collins.
"I'd say there's a pretty good chance Vince is going to be in the ballgame,'' Fisher said. "How much I don't know, but I'd think there's a great chance."
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch are sidelined for the second straight week due to injuries, and center Kevin Mawae is questionable with an injured elbow.
But the Titans showed their depth on the defensive line against the Steelers as rookie Jason Jones filled in for Haynesworth and had 3 1/2 of Tennessee's five sacks. The Titans are tied for fourth with 43 sacks, but Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has been sacked just 13 times, and the Titans failed to get to him in that victory.
Since the loss at Tennessee, Manning has guided Indianapolis (11-4) to eight consecutive victories for its seventh straight playoff berth.
In Thursday's 31-24 win over Jacksonville, Manning completed his first 17 passes and rallied the Colts from 14-0 and 24-14 deficits, setting an NFL record with their third victory after trailing by 14 or more points.
Manning was 29-of-34 for a season-high 364 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars. He has thrown for 26 touchdowns, his league-record 11th consecutive season with 25 or more.
Manning is also just 93 yards passing shy of reaching 4,000 in a season for a league-record ninth time.
"Peyton Manning is unbelievable,'' said Colts coach Tony Dungy, who became the first coach since the 1970 merger to lead his team to the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons. "He put a lot of it on his shoulders and kept us in it. He played unbelievably under the circumstances. All in all, with everything that was riding on it ... it was a great performance. It was an MVP performance for sure.''
With the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs locked up, Dungy said he will rest several starters on Sunday, which could include wide receiver Marvin Harrison (hamstring) and running back Joseph Addai (right shoulder).
The Colts will open the playoffs at the AFC West winner - either San Diego or Denver - on Jan. 3 or 4.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
TENNESSEE is 9-7 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 9-7 straight up against TENNESSEE since 1992
10 of 16 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 5-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
TENNESSEE is 3-2 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
4 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
TENNESSEE is 5-4 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 5-4 straight up against TENNESSEE since 1992
7 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons.
TENNESSEE is 2-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
INDIANAPOLIS is 1-1 straight up against TENNESSEE 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
No significant injuries.
[CB] Marlin Jackson IR - ACL - 10/30/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
[CB] Nick Graham IR - Ankle - 11/19/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
[DT] Erik Foster is upgraded to probable - Neck - 12/15/08
[DT] Keyunta Dawson is upgraded to probable - Hamstring - 12/15/08
[LB] Gary Brackett is out indefinitely - Leg - 12/16/08
[LB] Tyjuan Hagler is upgraded to probable - Knee - 12/16/08
[OG] Ryan Lilja is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 11/26/08
[RB] Clifton Dawson IR - Concussion - 11/07/08
[RB] Joseph Addai is upgraded to probable - Shoulder - 12/15/08
[RB] Mike Hart IR - Knee - 10/15/08
[S] Bob Sanders is upgraded to probable - Knee - 12/15/08
[TE] Tom Santi IR - Shoulder - 11/19/08
[WR] Pierre Garcon is upgraded to probable - Personal - 12/17/08
Posted: 12/24/08 3:32PM ET