Colts vs. Titans 2012 preview: Second place in the AFC South on the line

John Grieshop

The Titans, riding a two-game winning streak, host the Colts

The Tennessee Titans survived a shootout against the Buffalo Bills last week and will host their division rival Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Indianapolis, on the other hand, scored a 17-13 win at home over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, but are still seeking their first victory on the road this season.

Running back Chris Johnson carved up the Bills defense last Sunday, rushing for 195 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns in the 35-34 Titans win. For the Colts, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck rushed for two touchdowns and completed 16-of-29 passes for 186 yards as Indianapolis held off Cleveland in Week 7.

Meet the Tennessee Titans

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is expected to make his fourth straight start in replacement of Jake Locker, who is still recovering from a separated shoulder suffered against the Houston Texans on Sept. 30. In his three previous starts, Hasselbeck is 2-1 this season.

Down six points, wideout Nate Washington caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hasselbeck with just over a minute to play in regulation, giving Tennessee the back-and-forth victory in Buffalo.

Meet the Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have alternated losses and wins in seven games this season as Luck has thrown for 1,674 yards -- while completing 53.6 percent of his throws -- along with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Veteran wideout Reggie Wayne in tops in the NFL in receiving yards per game with 111 a contest, and second overall in total receiving yards, with 666 so far on 47 receptions. He's also caught two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Colts rank in the bottom half of the league. They give up an average of 26.3 points per game, which ranks 24th in the league.

Local Takes: Titans

Blogger SuperHorn from Music City Miracles says Johnson's performance was a good sign for things to come:

I've seen huge progress from CJ over the last few weeks, and it culminated in a great performance on Sunday against the Bills. Does this mean "he's back"? Hard to say. We need to see this same kind of commitment to the basics against superior opponents. Ironically, it was CJ taking what the defense gave him and not looking for the homerun that resulted in this explosive play. And, I think that is important. It allows the coaching staff to put this up in the film room and show that good things happen when you aren't constantly trying to press the play outside.

Local Takes: Colts

Matt Grecco from Stampede Blue says, however, that it will be up to Luck to win the game Sunday:

I think the running games, for both teams, will be minimized and won't really factor into the game. While Johnson had a big week last week, he's never really had that break-out game against the Colts, averaging just under 3.7 Yards per Carry in seven career games. For comparison's sake, he's averaged over 5.2 YPC against both the Texans and Jaguars, the two other teams that are quite familiar with him. The Colts ran the ball better last week, but it should be the Andrew Luck show against this pass defense.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Music City Miracles and Stampede Blue, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@TitansMCM

@StampedeBlue

@pwilson24 - Sports writer for The Indianapolis Star.

@jwyattsports - Titans beat writer for The Tennessean.

Prediction

From the Week 8 picks:

Guess which team lost the last time these two AFC South rivals met? That's right, the Titans lost, 27-13, last December to a Colts team led by Dan Orlovsky. Things have changed since then, sort of. This one looks like a shootout. Tennessee's defense is the league's worst, allowing an average of 34 points per game. Only one of the Titans' opponents has scored fewer than 30 points. The key here is Chris Johnson. The Colts allow yards by the dozen to opposing running backs, and the Titans are 22-8 when CJ2K tops 100 yards.

The pick: 30-24, Titans.

Odds

The Titans opened the week as 2½-point favorites, according to OddsShark, but Tennessee has picked up another point, as the spread now favors the home team by 3½ points on Sunday. The over/under for total points scored is resting at 47.

Next Week

The Titans remain at home next week when they host the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears on Nov. 4. Meanwhile, the Colts head back to Indianapolis in Week 9 to take on the Miami Dolphins.

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