MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – INDIANAPOLIS at TENNESSEE
Typically, Monday Night primetime games have been saved for the box office teams like New England, Seattle, Green Bay and a select few others. That’s why I like this match-up so much.
Indianapolis, a team we have seen plenty of in the past few years because of QB Andrew Luck, make their MNF 2017 debut with recently acquired Jacoby Brissett at the helm.
They face Tennessee, who have been a buzz team yet to get in its groove. A talented QB, a dynamic rushing duo and enough outside weapons to compete partnered with what many thought was an honest, hard-nosed defence.
The defence has been inconsistent – allowing Houston to put up 57 on them was an obvious lowlight – but the team’s major issue has been Marcus Mariota’s health.
Mariota is playing today but is considered far from 100% healthy after a hamstring complaint. For a mobile, athletic QB a hammy strain would nearly be the last thing he’d want to deal with.
His presence however, will change this game’s script.
Because, incredibly, Tennessee is on an 11-game losing streak against their divisional rival Colts.
Here are a few things to keep your eye on;
The best QB on either roster is 5-0 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville but his name is Luck and he’s going to be wearing his casuals whilst Brissett makes his fifth start for the Colts. This game was identified as a national coming of age for Mariota and the Titans but with his ill-health and the teams 2-3 record, securing any kind of win is all that matters.
Mariota adds to the DeMarco Murray-Derrick Henry 1-2 rushing punch – provided his hammy holds up. At their best, Tennessee are a ground and pound team with some delightful play action deep balls from MM.
Brissett is playing – and improving – behind a poor offensive line but TY Hilton has upped his game and Frank Gore is doing enough on the ground alongside young gun Marlon Mack.
Pound The Rock…
As mentioned, Murray and Henry have shown glimpses of an unstoppable rushing attack. Mariota’s athletic prowess adds x-factor but the ground game has been lacking somewhat. Murray is outside the top 20 in rushing yards and has only found the paint once. Henry had a breakout game against Jacksonville with 14 totes for 92 yards and a score but has since found himself seeing little action with only ten carries in the past fortnight.
At their best in 2016, Murray and Henry were an unstoppable duo combining power with burst and regularly finding the end zone. These two need to go for 150+ and maybe a score each.
Tight End Tales…
Delanie Walker is well-known. He’s arguably Tennessee’s most reliable receiver but he’s far from a nationally recognised tight end like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or even Zach Ertz. His play means he should be in that conversation and with Mariota under centre, his chances of a bug game look great.
Colts TE Jack Doyle is second on the team in catches despite missing last week with a concussion. Hilton is the undeniable elite offensive talent but Doyle has been sneaky consistent for Brissett.
I rarely do this to you guys but keep this in mind. As I entered the surgeon’s theatre yesterday morning, I was a 96% favourite to win my Fantasy Football match-up. When I woke up I was a dozen points behind with just one player remaining. Holy cow!
So, here is the deal. Colts star wideout needs to drop 13 points for me to win. Achievable but far from certain. TY has lit up Tennessee with four of his past six games ending with 90+ receiving yards. Go TY!
Q1 over 10.5 points ($2.15)
DeMarco Murray 1st TD ($8)
TY Hilton +55 receiving yards ($1.55)
(Odds courtesy of TAB.com.au)
Enjoy your lunchtime Tuesday edition of NFL Football.