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Colts edge out Titans in close AFC South contest

Considered the AFC’s burial ground early in the season, the AFC South has started to look a little more interesting of late.

Whilst Houston – a class above the rest of the division – continues its charge to the postseason, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have started to find form of late, whilst Tennessee – led by Matt Hasselbeck – has also begun looking less like doormats, and more like a tough out. Week 8 saw the two sides collide in Nashville, in a matchup that would go a long way to deciding which side will play runner-up to the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts 19, Tennessee Titans 13 (OT)

Andrew Luck an Vick Ballard celebrate a game-winning overtime touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.

Whilst both Indianapolis and Tennessee have both shown signs of improvement, nobody expected this one to be pretty. Nobody expected it to be anything but a close contest either.

With six wins combined heading into Sunday afternoon’s encounter, neither team had won a game by more than three points. That trend would be broken in overtime, just.

The teams traded field goals in the first quarter before Tennessee took a 10-3 lead on a Hasselbeck scoring strike to Kendall Wright. Field goals were again traded leaving Tennessee with a 13-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Andrew Luck would go on to lead the Colts up the field, setting up a one-yard run from Delone Carter to force overtime. After winning the toss, the Colts marched up field, with Luck hitting Vick Ballard for an acrobatic winning touchdown.

On the day, Luck completed 26 of 38 passes, good for 297 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His counterpart Hasselbeck went 22 from 29 in the game, compiling 236 yards and one touchdown. Both could be pleased with their performances.

The Colts’ running game grabbed 171 yards rushing all told, while Tennessee’s Chris Johnson followed up last week’s mammoth performance with 99 yards on 21 carries. Reggie Wayne caught seven balls for 91 yards for the Colts.

The win gives Indianapolis (4-3) a two game advantage over Tennessee (3-5), whilst putting the side within two games of division-leading Houston, not that anyone expects the team from Texas to be caught.

Andrew Luck’s fourth win of the season gives him more than Peyton Manning managed in his first season in Indianapolis, a fact that has Colts fans smiling.

Despite being a somewhat unsurprising result, the Colts’ won in upset fashion, beating the +3½ game time spread. The upset was one of six in the NFL this weekend, although none of those were of the marquee variety we have become used to this season.

The total went [way] under with the teams combining for just 32 points against 47 predicted by bookies.

Indianapolis now returns to the Hoosier State to take on another 4-3 team, Miami. The Dolphins have been much improved this season and put a beating on the Jets this past weekend. Indianapolis opens as underdogs (+3).

Tennessee meanwhile remains in Nashville and prepares to welcome the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears. The spread has opened at 4½ in favor of the Bears, a number that’s sure to rise over the coming days.

Up Next: (IND) Vs. Miami Dolphins (4-3); (TEN) Vs. Chicago Bears (6-1)

Jacksonville Jaguars 15, Green Bay Packers 24

Cecil Shorts' big game against Green Bay helped the Jaguars beat the spread.

It had blowout written all over it, but Jacksonville’s trip to Wisconsin proved to be a much closer affair than most could have imagined.

Entering the game with the worst record in football and without star running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars managed to put in a strong performance – albeit in a losing effort – that saw bettors reel come the end of the game.

Without Jones-Drew, the Jaguars got big performances from Cecil Shorts (116 yards receiving) and Rashard Jennings (115 all-purpose yards) whilst Blaine Gabbart threw for 303 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars kept it close, heading into halftime trailing just 14-12, a score that would have been even were it not for a missed two point conversion. In fact, Jacksonville could have taken a lead into halftime had Green Bay not blocked a punt for a touchdown, the first time since 1990 the Packers had achieved such a feat.

The Jaguars kept is close in the second half too. Aaron Rodgers was limited to just 186 yards on the day, with two touchdowns. The second of those touchdowns proved vital, opening up some daylight between the sides in the fourth quarter. A final score of 24-15 represented a much closer game.

The determined Jacksonville (1-6) approach saw the Jaguars beat the 15-point game time spread, moving the side to 3-3-1 ATS this year.

Green Bay (5-3) moved to 3-5 ATS, a statistic telling of the ‘odd’ season the Wisconsin side is experiencing.

The total went under for the fourth time in a Jaguars game this season, rewarding bettors that probably thought the Jaguars wouldn’t score any while the Packers put up 46.

Jacksonville returns to North Florida this week to take on the Detroit Tigers, winners of two out of three and victors over the Seahawks this past weekend. The Jaguars open as underdogs (+4).

Up Next: Vs. Detroit Lions (3-4)

Houston Prepares for Second Half

Week 9 – officially the midpoint of the season – sees Houston (6-1) return to action following this past weekend’s bye.

The Texans have impressed all this season, mixing a prevailing defense with an impressive offense on the way to six wins. Only a blowout home loss to the up-and-down Packers mars the team’s record this season.

Consequently, odds of the Texans taking the Super Bowl have shortened as the season has progressed. 12/1 (and fifth favorite) preseason, Houston entered this week as 5/1 favorites to take the Vince Lombardi trophy. Whilst bookmakers fiddle with this week’s odds following San Francisco’s big win on Monday Night Football, don’t expect anybody to have jumped past the Texans just yet.

But odds don’t mean a thing if you don’t get results. Houston plays in its third straight home game this weekend, welcoming the Buffalo Bills (3-4). Houston opens as  11-point favorites against the spluttering upstate New York side.

Up Next: Vs. Buffalo Bills (3-4)

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