Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts have some issues they need to work out before the playoffs start, and coach Chuck Pagano intends to make sure they do just that Sunday.
The Colts (10-5) already are assured hosting a playoff game against the loser of Pittsburgh-Cincinnati — barring a Bengals tie that could move Indianapolis up to the AFC's No. 3 seed. But Indianapolis is coming off its worst performance this season in a 42-7 loss at Dallas, where the Colts turned it over three times and had a season-low 229 yards total offense.
So no resting starters in the regular-season finale against the struggling Titans. The Colts need to tune up the NFL's third-best offense for the postseason.
"It's going to be no easy task," Pagano said. "We'd like to get something going and get back. We've had our moments where we've been able to move the ball and score points, but we've struggled as of late, so that's one of our goals."
Fifth in the league averaging 28.7 points a game, the Colts rallied late to squeak by Cleveland and have scored their fewest points of the season in each of the past two games.
"We kind of laid the egg last week," Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said. "We want to go into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves. We want to go in with some kind of rolling ball of some sort going to the playoffs."
The Titans (2-13) are in competition with Tampa Bay for the top draft pick overall and desperately want to finish this miserable season with a win. They had a few extra days of rest following their ninth straight loss, 21-13 in Jacksonville on Dec. 18. Their last victory was Oct. 12 against the Jaguars — their lone win at home this season — and they have lost 13 of 14 in their worst season in 20 years.
A win might bring the added bonus of keeping the Titans from having the NFL's worst record.
"So that's really what our mindset is on is not having the worst record in the NFL and at least try to end up on a good note," Titans tight end Delanie Walker said.
Here are some things to look for Sunday:
AFC SOUTH DOMINANCE: The Colts already have won their ninth division title since realignment in 2002. They also have won six straight and 11 of the last 12 against the Titans. But a win in the finale would be the first time Indianapolis has swept the AFC South for two straight years. A win also would be the Colts' third consecutive season with at least 11 wins, making Pagano only the second head coach in NFL history to do that in each of his first three seasons.
LUCKING OUT: Andrew Luck leads the NFL with 38 touchdown passes. If he throws two TDs, he would become the eighth player in league history with 40 or more in a season. Luck has thrown for 12,797 yards since coming into the league in 2012, the most of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era in his first three seasons.
TOP PICK CONTENDER: The Titans have a chance at the top overall draft pick, which would be this franchise's first since 1978, when the then-Houston Oilers traded four picks and a player to Tampa Bay to select Earl Campbell. Tennessee will wind up first with a loss and a Tampa Bay win over New Orleans. The Titans can pick no worse than second overall, something they haven't done since 1984.
MR. AUTOMATIC: For all Adam Vinatieri has done in his career, the Colts kicker can do something new in his 19th season if he connects on every field goal he attempts Sunday. Vinatieri, who has hit all 47 extra points this season, currently is 28 of 28 on his field goals. Only four other kickers have finished a season without missing a field goal, the last Mike Vanderjagt with Indianapolis in 2003.
WHITEHURST'S YEAR: Charlie Whitehurst signed with Tennessee for the chance to play, and he's gotten that. He had started only four games combined through his first eight NFL seasons. He will start his fifth game this season on Sunday, already throwing for a career-high 1,254 yards, and Whitehurst is coming off the best game of his career. He threw for 287 yards and posted a 102.9 passer rating in the loss at Jacksonville.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter: http://twitter.com/teresamwalker
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.