Indianapolis Colts (2-3) at Tennessee Titans (3-3)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Nissan Stadium. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
SERIES HISTORY: 43rd regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 29-13. The Colts have dominated the AFC South and the Titans since the division was formed. Indy has won nine in a row vs. Tennessee and 14 of the past 15. The Colts are 17-6 vs. Tennessee in home games and 12-7 on the road. Indianapolis has posted wins in four of its last five games at Nissan Stadium, including last year's 35-33 decision.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Indianapolis has been consistently inconsistent through the first six games of the year, either not being able to start fast and keep the pressure on teams or not being able to close out contests when getting off to double-digit leads.
Offensively, the Colts have been shooting themselves in the foot with ill-timed penalties and poor decision making. Indianapolis' running game has shown some improvement but the inability to keep the chains moving in crucial situations continues to hamper the offensive production.
As for the defense, the Colts are still searching for a consistent pass rush. Opposing quarterbacks are getting too much time in the pocket to look downfield and find secondary receivers. Tackling has also been a recurring issue, especially late in games. Indianapolis has allowed too many yards after the catch.
Last week, the Titans turned to the passing game when the Browns keyed on stopping the run. This week, they hope to get back to running the football with DeMarco Murray against a Colts defense that can be porous.
On defense, Tennessee must get pressure on Andrew Luck and not allow T.Y. Hilton to beat them with big plays down the field. Look for the Titans to try to confuse Luck as much as possible with exotic blitzes and movement, especially on third down.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Colts QB Andrew Luck vs. Titans OLB Brian Orakpo. Luck has been sacked 23 times and hit on 46 other occasions through the first six games. Despite the constant pressure, he still has managed to complete 152-of-237 passes for 1,721 yards and 11 touchdowns while just throwing four interceptions. In seven career games against the Titans, Luck has connected on 139-227 passes for 1,738 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has been sacked 16 times by the Tennessee defense. Orakpo leads the Titans with seven sacks this year. Tennessee has 18 total sacks as a team.
--Titans QB Marcus Mariota vs. Colts linebackers. Mariota has gotten off to a strong start this year both throwing and running the football. He has completed 117-of-189 passes for 1,372 yards and 10 touchdowns along with six interceptions. Mariota has been sacked nine times this year. As a runner, he has 196 yards on 27 carries and one TD. Indianapolis is ranked 29th in the league in pass defense (293.5 yards per game), and 25th in run defense (117.7 yards per game). The Colts linebackers will have their hands full trying to contain Tennessee's dual-threat quarterback.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Colts CB Rashaan Melvin. The fourth-year defensive back from Northern Illinois, who was added to the roster on Sept. 7, has played relatively well when called upon. With injuries to CBs Patrick Robinson and Darius Butler, Melvin earned playing time with the first defensive unit. He had three tackles and a forced fumble in the home field win over Chicago two weeks ago and added five tackles in last week's loss at Houston. While Melvin needs to develop more consistency, his overall production has been a nice surprise.
INJURY REPORT: Indianapolis -- Out: TE Dwayne Allen (ankle), DT Henry Anderson (knee), WR Phillip Dorsett (foot, hamstring), DT Zach Kerr (ankle), LB Curt Maggitt (ankle), G Jack Mewhort (tricep), WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder). Questionable: CB Darius Butler (calf, hamstring), S T.J. Green (knee), C Jonotthan Harrison (illness), WR T.Y. Hilton (hip). Tennessee -- None listed.
FAST FACTS: Colts QB Andrew Luck is 7-0 vs. Tennessee, with four road wins. ... Colts WR. T.Y. Hilton caught four passes for 94 yards in his last game at Tennessee. He has 28 catches for 436 yards and three TDs in the past four games. ... Colts K Adam Vinatieri has made 41 consecutive FGs, the second-longest streak in NFL history. ... Titans QB Marcus Mariota passed for 367 yards and two TDs in his only start vs. Indianapolis. He has six passing TDs, 124 rushing yards and a rushing TD in his past two games. ... Titans WR Andre Johnson spent 2015 with Indianapolis. In his past seven vs. the Colts (when he was with Houston), he has 57 catches for 839 yards and seven TDs.
PREDICTION: This looks like another barnburner in the making, with Mariota and the Titans in position to end that nine-game losing streak.
OUR PICK: Titans, 35-30.