The Tennessee Titans (3-12) conclude the 2015 season with a trip to face the Indianapolis Colts (7-8) this week. Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium (capacity 63,000) is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST/noon CST on Sunday, Jan. 3.
TITANS LOOK TO END SEASON ON WINNING NOTE: The Titans played their final home game of the season last week against the Houston Texans. Texans quarterback Brandon Weeden passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another, and the Texans forced four turnovers en route to a 34-6 victory.
Against the Texans, Zach Mettenberger started at quarterback in place of Marcus Mariota, who was inactive due to a knee injury he suffered on Dec. 20 at New England. Mettenberger was 27-of-51 passing for 234 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The team’s lone touchdown came on a one-yard pass from Mettenberger to rookie wide receiver Tre McBride in the fourth quarter.
The Titans hope to get Mariota back for the finale. Entering Week 17, the second-overall draft pick already has set the franchise rookie records for pass attempts (370), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing touchdowns (19). With one more touchdown pass, he would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history to reach 20 touchdown passes as a rookie.
Also this week, tight end Delanie Walker can become the first tight end in franchise history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season. His 994 yards leave him six yards short of the mark, and his 85 receptions already rank eighth in franchise history for a single season among all players. With five catches in the finale, Walker would record the fourth 90-reception season in the “Titans era” (1999-present), joining Derrick Mason (2003 and 2004) and Kendall Wright (2013).
COLTS KEEP PLAYOFF HOPES ALIVE WITH WIN AT MIAMI: The Colts broke a three-game losing streak last week with an 18-12 victory at Miami. In doing so, they remained one game out of the division lead behind the 8-7 Texans.
To win the AFC South, the Colts need a number of outcomes to fall their way, beginning with the Denver Broncos beating the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, Dec. 28. The Colts then would need to beat the Titans, the Texans would need to lose to the Jaguars, and several other games would determine the division tiebreaker based on strength of victory.
If the Colts can manage to win the division, it would be their fourth consecutive postseason berth with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and quarterback Andrew Luck in place for the team. They earned playoff berths in each of their first three seasons since arriving in 2012, including 2014, when they won the AFC South and made it to the AFC Championship Game.
However, Luck has played in only seven games in 2015. He has been inactive for the last six contests due to abdomen and kidney injuries.
Luck’s absence has allowed former Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck an opportunity to play as a backup. In eight starts, the 17-year veteran has passed for 1,690 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. But an injury prevented him from finishing the game at Miami, and another former Titans signal caller, Charlie Whitehurst, was called upon to lead the Colts to the victory.
TITANS-COLTS SERIES AT A GLANCE
Overall series (regular & postseason): Colts lead 28-14
Regular season series: Colts lead 28-13
Postseason series: Titans lead 1-0
Total points: Titans 809, Colts 1,071
Current streak: Eight wins by Colts
Titans at home vs. Colts: 7-12
Titans on road vs. Colts: 7-16 (including 1-0 in playoffs)
Longest winning streak by Titans: 3 (twice, last 1999–2002)
Longest losing streak by Titans: 8 (2011–2015)
Titans vs. Colts at Nissan Stadium: 4-10
Last time at Nissan Stadium: COLTS 35 at Titans 33 (9-27-15)
Titans vs. Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium: 0-7
Last time at Lucas Oil Stadium: Titans 17 at COLTS 41 (9-28-14)
First time: COLTS 24 at Oilers 20 (10-11-70)
Mike Mularkey’s record vs. Colts: 1-1
Chuck Pagano’s record vs. Titans: 7-0
Mike Mularkey’s record vs. Chuck Pagano: 1-1
A TITANS VICTORY WOULD
Improve improve Zach Mettenberger’s starting record to 1-9.
Improve Mike Mularkey’s career record as a head coach to 19-38.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
T Byron Bell, DT Jurrell Casey, DE DaQuan Jones, and OLB Brian Orakpo can finish the 2015 season with starts in all 16 games.
TE Delanie Walker (85 receptions in 2015) needs five receptions to record the eighth 90-catch season in franchise history.
TE Delanie Walker (994 receiving yards) needs six receiving yards to become the first tight end in franchise history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
WR Kendall Wright (251 career receptions for 2,828 yards) needs one reception to pass Bo Scaife (251) for 13th place on the team’s all-time receptions list.
TITANS-COLTS SERIES HISTORY
This week’s game will mark the 43rd all-time contest between the Titans and Colts. The Colts lead the series 28-14.
The Colts currently own an eight-game winning streak over the Titans, including sweeps in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The last time the Titans won was Oct. 30, 2011. The eight-game losing streak is the Titans’ longest current winless skid against any NFL team.
The last time the Titans and Colts met at Lucas Oil Stadium was Sept. 28, 2014, when the Colts overpowered the Titans by a final score of 41-17. Andrew Luck passed for 393 yards and four touchdowns, while the Colts defense forced three turnovers.
In the 2014 rematch at Nissan Stadium (Dec. 28), Luck and Matt Hasselbeck combined to pass for 315 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-10 Colts victory.
The Colts won a tightly-contested battle in Week 3 of the 2015 campaign. The Titans erased an early 14-0 deficit to take a 27-14 lead in the second half, but the Colts posted 21 points in the fourth quarter to escape Nissan Stadium with a 35-33 victory. Marcus Mariota led the Titans on a late two-minute drive that came close to pushing the game to overtime after fullback Jalston Fowler scored on a one-yard touchdown run. However, needing a two-point conversion to tie the score, Fowler got the handoff again but was denied by the Colts on the attempt.
The Titans and Colts have met only once in the postseason, a 19-16 Titans victory in a Divisional Playoff game in the RCA Dome on Jan. 16, 1999. Eddie George rushed for 162 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run to help lead Tennessee during its run to Super Bowl XXXIV.
The teams first clashed in 1970 following the AFL-NFL merger. The then-Baltimore Colts defeated the then-Houston Oilers 24-20 during the Colts’ run to a Super Bowl V Championship.
994 Receiving yards in 2015 by Delanie Walker, breaking his own franchise tight end record of 890 receiving yards in a season (2014).
85 Receptions in 2015 by Delanie Walker, breaking Frank Wycheck’s franchise tight end record of 70 receptions in a season (1998 and 2000).
528 Receiving yards in 2015 by second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham. The total ranks fourth among all rookies.
2 Players in the Super Bowl era—Marcus Mariota and Kordell Stewart—who have passed for a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass during their rookie seasons.
4 Games during his rookie season in which Marcus Mariota has completed at least three touchdown passes. He is the second rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat, along with Peyton Manning (1998).
7.6 Percent of opponent passing plays resulting in sacks by the Titans defense, which ranks third in the NFL (Denver, New England).
12 Number of different Titans players who have caught touchdown passes this season, breaking the previous franchise record of 10 different players in 1961.
127 Tackles by inside linebacker Avery Williamson, who leads the team and became the first player for the team in the “Titans era” (1999–present) to begin his career with consecutive 100-tackle seasons.
3 Consecutive seasons by Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey with at least five sacks, including seven sacks in 2015.
908 Career tackles (coaches’ tally) by Titans safety Michael Griffin, who last week became the fifth player in team history to reach 900 tackles.
14 Rookies who have played for the Titans during their first 15 games: Marcus Mariota, Dorial Green-Beckham, Jeremiah Poutasii, Andy Gallikk, Jalston Fowler, Angelo Blackson, Deiontrez Mount, Cody Riggs, Quinton Spain, Tre McBride, David Cobb, Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, J.R. Tavi and Andrew Turzilli. All nine of the team’s draft picks in 2015 have played.
7 Punts placed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line last week by Brett Kern. The total was the most ever recorded for the franchise (statistic tracked since 1976) and tied for the third-highest total in any NFL game since 1976.
OFFICIATING CREW: TBD
CBS Nashville Affiliate: WTVF News Channel 5
DirecTV Sunday Ticket: Ch. 715
Play-by-Play: Andrew Catalon
Analysts: Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein
Titans Radio Network Flagship: WGFX 104.5 FM-The Zone
Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 118
Play-by-Play: Mike Keith
Analyst: Frank Wycheck
Gameday Host: Rhett Bryan
Sideline Reporter: Jonathan Hutton