Audibles: AFC South Week 17 preview

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Tennessee Titans (13-2) at Indianapolis Colts (11-4), 1 p.m. ET

For much of the year there was speculation that this game would be a mirror image of last season's finale. In 2007, the Titans needed to win to get in and the game meant nothing to the Colts, who didn't play their key people long, if at all.

Indy avoided that role reversal by clinching the top wild-card berth on Dec. 18.

So now the game means nothing for either team.

The Colts are a week away from a playoff opener and will rest up. The Titans have a week off coming up and would like to maintain some rhythm, but aren't going to risk much. Tennessee probably wants to win more, because it would mean the first 14-win season in franchise history.

But look deep on the depth charts to find the guys who will determine the outcome. We're talking Jim Sorgi, Pierre Garcon and Najeh Davenport of the Colts against Vince Young, Chris Henry and Paul Williams.

Kudos to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his efforts to ensure the schedule offers better games at the end of the season and fewer meaningless contests involving playoff teams. This one had potential for a while, but unfortunately qualifies as a miss.

The biggest win for either side? No one gets hurt.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) at Baltimore Ravens (10-5), 4:15 ET

The Jaguars have played better the past two weeks, which has many feeling they could be poised to be a spoiler for the Ravens -- who need a win to get the final AFC playoff berth.

Here's why Baltimore can be confident: While the Ravens have lost all five games they've played against playoff teams, they're undefeated against teams who aren't playing in January. And the Jaguars were eliminated weeks ago.

Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has a knee injury but practiced Friday and is probable. He's topped 100 yards only twice this season, and the Ravens haven't allowed a back to go over 100 in 34 consecutive games. He's more likely to hurt the Ravens as a receiver - he's got 61 receptions for 555 yards.

With Matt Jones suspended, the Jaguars have turned to Dennis Northcutt as a target and in two games with the bigger role, he has 13 catches for 228 yards with two touchdowns.

Chicago Bears (9-6) at Houston Texans (7-8), 1 p.m. ET

It was a big development for this game Friday when the Bears placed safety Mike Brown on injured reserve. Replacement Craig Steltz won't be as helpful for Chicago as it tries to slow down the Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson connection.

Johnson's numbers at Reliant Stadium are spectacular: a 134.4 yard average with five games over 100 yards. But don't sleep on Kevin Walter - if the receiver who plays opposite Johnson catches a touchdown pass, he'll break Johnson's franchise record of eight.

The Texans have heard a lot about how they've been good at winning games that don't mean anything. They could score some respect, claim progress and get a big gift basket from the Vikings if they step it up here and do well as a spoiler against the Bears.

Steve Slaton went against fellow rookie running back Chris Johnson twice in matchups with the Titans. Now he's in another matchup against a successful rookie back in the Bears' Matt Forte, who's the lone rookie in the league to lead his team in rushing (1,188 yards), receptions (60) and touchdowns (12).

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