Margus Hunt in season finale playoffs bid

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Margus Hunt (92) in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a previous game a little over a year ago.
Margus Hunt (92) in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a previous game a little over a year ago. Source: AFP/Scanpix

Margus Hunt, defensive end with the Indianpolis Colts, is due in action on Sunday evening as his team takes on the Tennessee Titans in the final game of the NFL regular season. The prize is likely a wildcard place in the playoffs.

Unlike the NFC, whose divisional champions are all decided (there are four divisions in each of the two NFL conferences; winners of each division go through to the post-season playoffs together with two runner up 'wildcard' teams) the AFC is still wide open, including the AFC South, which the Colts play in.

AFC South leaders the Houston Texans have clinched the playoffs and are 10-5 going into the final weekend. However, the Colts and the Titans are still in the running at 9-6 each, and in theory could even win the division, if the Texans lose their final game at home against fellow AFC South-ers the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Regardless of what happens with the Texans, whoever wins between the Colts and the Titans will go through to the playoffs, most likely picking up the second wildcard spot (the other wildcard will go to either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Los Angeles Chargers, currently neck and neck on 11-4 in the AFC West division).

Titans on slightly better form than Colts

The last time the Colts met the Titans, in mid-November, Margus Hunt's team won decisively, 38-10 in a strong offensive performance led by Colts' QB Andrew Luck. Things should be a bit closer this time, though.

The Colts have had mixed success more recently, winning three of their last four games including an important psychological victory against the Texans. However, the Titans have won all four previous games, and have the home field advantage tonight with the game played at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

The Titans also shutout the New York Giants on 16 December, winning 17-0 away from home. When the Colts met the Giants a week later, at home, they only managed to win by a point, 28-27.

Both teams are strong defensively; the Colts have the stronger passing offensive record, not helped by Titans' QB Marcus Mariota recovering from a minor injury picked up at the team's last game, so the latter are likely to rely more on a rushing game and will hope to replicate their defensive performance against the Giants.

Longest route to the Superbowl

Wildcard teams making it to the playoffs are less likely to get to the Superbowl, having to play one extra game then divisional winner, and with no homefield advantage. Winning the Superbowl from a wildcard spot is not completely without precedent, though, and last happened in 2011, when the Green Bay Packers won Superbowl XLV.

The game kicks off late, at 20.20 Eastern time (03.20 EET), making it the absolute final game of the 2018 regular season. The playoffs start on 5 January, with the wildcard teams facing off against each other, so if the Colts do make it through, Margus Hunt will be in action again barely a week later.

Hunt, 31, from Karksi-Nuia, Viljandi County in South Estonia, started as a field athlete at the Southern Methodist Univeristy (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, in 2007, making the switch to gridiron when SMU cut its athletics program. Drafted by the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals in the second round in 2013, he was traded to the Colts in March 2017.

Update: Indianapolis comfortably won their game 33-17 against the Titans to book their place in the playoffs. They will meet AFC South champions the Houston Texans on 5 January at the NRG Stadium in Houston.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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