Dec 182013

Tennessee Titans (5-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10)

One of the most powerful trends in betting is known as the six and six trend, meaning teams who finish with 6 wins or fewer are 25-69 ATS as favorites of 6 or more since 2002. There are two issues with this trend. One, it’s very rare (it only happened 7 times all last season, going 2-5 ATS). Two, it’s even rarer that a situation will come up in which you can confidently use the trend. The Eagles were 8.5 point favorites in Cleveland last year week 1 (they didn’t cover), but at the time there was no way to know that the Eagles would finish 6-10 or worse.

The Titans sit at 5-9 and need to win out to finish better than 6-10 so it’s something to consider, but this isn’t like a normal six and six situation. For one, this line isn’t 6 points everywhere. In fact, in the majority of places, it’s still at 5.5. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t climb to 6 and that doesn’t mean the six and six trend is something to completely ignore, but it’s worth noting this isn’t a true six and six situation. Two, the Titans could actually win out fairly easily. They will be favored by more than a field goal in each of their final two games, as they have a home game against the Texans after this one.  Even if this line does move all the way up to 6, it might not necessarily be a six and six situation.

The Titans are better than their 5-9 record would suggest. They have a point differential of just -29 and rank 19th in weighted DVOA. In terms of rate of moving the chains, they move them at a 71.73% rate, as opposed to 72.25% for their opponents, both of which are pretty decent. Their differential of -0.52% is 18th in the NFL. They’re more talented than most teams that fit the six and six trend. That trend is based off the premise that some teams should not be big favorites against anyone. I don’t think the Titans are one of those teams.

Given that, I actually like the Titans a good deal this week. While the Titans are better than their record, the Jaguars are worse than their record, which is hard to do when you’re 4-10. However, that 4-10 record is buoyed by a 4-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. Nine of their 10 losses have come by double digits and all 10 have come by at least a touchdown, which is relevant considering this line is still below a touchdown. Going off of that, over the past 2 seasons, in 15 home games, the Jaguars are just 2-13 and all 13 of those losses by come by more than a touchdown.

As a result of their many blowout losses this season, the Jaguars have easily the league’s worst point differential at -178. Only Washington at -129 is even close. They also rank dead last in DVOA, though Oakland does rank behind them in weighted DVOA. In terms of rate of moving the chains, they move the chains at a 63.77% rate, as opposed to 75.70% for their opponents. Not only is that -11.93% differential the worst in the NFL, but no other team has a differential worse than -6.23% (the NY Jets).

Now they’re without top receiver Cecil Shorts and may also be without Maurice Jones-Drew again. Not only do the Titans deserve to be big favorites here, even on the road, but I think we’re actually getting line value with them. This line should be bigger, somewhere around 8.5. In spite of that, the public is actually all over the underdog. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense, especially when the public is on the underdog. Whenever the public thinks one team is going to win and the odds makers think another team is going to win, it usually doesn’t end well for the public. The public was all over the Jaguars as an underdog last week. How’d that work out?

On top of that, Tennessee is also in a very good spot. I mentioned they have Houston next week, so they have no distractions that would prevent them from dominating a significantly inferior opponent. Teams are 39-22 ATS since 2002 as divisional road favorites before being divisional home favorites. Jacksonville, meanwhile, has to go to Indianapolis next week, which will be a bigger game for them than this one. Teams are 26-40 ATS since 2002 as divisional home favorites before being divisional road favorites. The Titans will also almost definitely be double digit underdogs in Indianapolis next week. Teams are 37-74 ATS since 2010 before being double digit underdogs. I like Tennessee a good deal this week.

Tennessee Titans 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 10

Pick against spread: Tennessee -5.5

Confidence: Medium

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