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The season could very well be on the line for both the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts when the two square off at LP Field on Thursday Night Football this week. Check out our NFL free picks for the duel between these two AFC South rivals, as they both try to close a bit of ground on the Jacksonville Jaguars for the division lead.
Matchup: Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans
Date: Thursday, December 9th, 8:20 ET
Location: LP Field, Nashville, TN
Game Line: Tennessee +3
Colts Notes: If anyone has seen the real QB Peyton Manning floating around, please let us know. This imposter that has thrown 11 picks over the course of the last three games clearly isn't the man that is getting into No. 18's jersey in blue and white on a weekly basis right now. The mass majority of the time, Manning is putting up numbers and making plays like a real MVP. However, there are just those moments when he uncharacteristically tries putting the ball into traffic, and more often than not, those balls are getting intercepted. Two of those were returned for touchdowns last week by the Dallas Cowboys, and the final one of the four set up the game winning score in overtime. Manning needs 291 yards to crack the 4,000 yard barrier on the season. There are more injury woes now for Manning and his offense to worry about as well. RB Mike Hart came back to the lineup for one week, but an ankle injury is almost certainly going to sideline him. Parlay that with the ineffectiveness of both RB Javarris James and RB Donald Brown, and the necessity was there to go sign an old friend. Manning welcomes back RB Dominic Rhodes this week after his time with the Orlando Tuskers in the UFL was complete. WR Pierre Garcon and WR Austin Collie are probably both out as well this week, which will call WR Blair White into more action. If there's good news for Indy, it is that it will probably ultimately control its own destiny to win the AFC South and to get into the playoffs, though another divisional defeat will clearly shift the balance of power over to the Jags once and for all. The Colts are one back of Jacksonville right now, and they can avenge an earlier season loss when the two meet up one last time this month.
Titans Notes: There aren't many teams that can say that they are still in the playoff race in spite of the fact that they are 5-7, but if the Titans don't get things worked out right now, they are certainly finished, as they will be at least two games back, if not three by the time the week is over, with just three games to play. HC Jeff Fisher is clearly in some trouble and might have some questions that he needs to answer very, very soon in the Music City, as another loss would once again keep his squad out of the postseason, which could result in his firing. And for good reason! Last week, the Titans scored just six points at home in a divisional game against said Jaguars, marking the second straight game in which they did not score a touchdown. In fact, the last time this team found the end zone was on a punt return for a score by Marc Mariani. The last time the offense scored was over 13 quarters ago, easily the longest stretch for any team in the NFL this season. Things aren't necessarily getting better either, as QB Kerry Collins was the man that was responsible for that six game losing streak to start the season off last year. RB Chris Johnson, at least on paper, should have a great game against the Colts and their porous rush defense, but we just aren't so sure. Johnson is over the 1,000 yard mark this year with 1,026 yards, but he has only rushed for 58 yards on 20 carries with no scores over the last two weeks. Tennessee has lost five games in a row both SU and ATS, easily one of the worst stretches that this team has had in the illustrious coaching tenure of Fisher.
The Final Word: Conventional wisdom suggests that the Colts are finally going to rebound and get off the mat in the first meeting of these division foes this year. However, we just aren't so sure that's the case. We think that this is the game that Johnson really shines, and if he can get going on the ground and keep Manning off the field and make him pay for any potential mistakes, the Titans have a real shot in this one. Don't be surprised if Fisher outfoxes the Colts in this one and pulls out a tremendous victory from his hat that would absolutely cripple the season for the visitors.
Free Pro Football Picks: Tennessee +3
Prediction: Tennessee 24 – Indianapolis 23