Arizona Cardinals (8-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-8)
One thing people who make picks way too often fail to do is look at who the team plays next. In this case, the Cardinals play arguably the best team in the NFL next week when they go to Seattle, while the Titans play arguably the worst team in the NFL next week when they go to Jacksonville. That matters. The Cardinals could easily not be focused here for the non-conference Titans when a trip to divisional Seattle for one of the biggest games of the season is on deck. Teams are 36-71 ATS since 2010 before being double digit favorites. Making matters worse, they face San Francisco the following week. Those two games are going to be so much more important for this team.
The Titans, meanwhile, have no distractions with a trip to Jacksonville on deck. Teams usually cover before being medium sized or bigger road favorites, going 63-36 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites of 3 or more. It might not seem like the Titans will be favored by more than a field goal in Jacksonville, but, remember, they were favored by 12 points at home over the Jaguars a few weeks ago. On top of that, the Texans were favored by 3.5 points in Jacksonville last week and the Bills are favored by 2 points there this week. The odds makers don’t have a lot of respect for the Jaguars (and rightfully so).
Even if, for whatever reason, they don’t end up being favored by that much in Jacksonville, they’re still in a very good spot simply because they will be road favorites of some amount in Jacksonville next week. Non-divisional home underdogs before being divisional road favorites cover at one of the highest rates I’ve ever seen, going 41-11 ATS since 1989.
The lowly Texans covered in this situation two weeks ago against the Patriots, before going to Jacksonville, where they lost. The Titans are in the same situation. The odds makers won a lot of money with that one as the public was all over New England. The same thing is true here. Combining the situation the Cardinals are in and the one the Titans are in, teams are 13-5 ATS since 1989 as home underdogs before being road favorites when their opponent will next be road underdogs.
This line is a little big anyway. I don’t understand how the Cardinals are giving a field goal to the Titans in any situation, let alone this one. The Cardinals are a good football team, moving the chains at a 71.43% rate, as opposed to 68.41% for their opponents, but the Titans are also pretty decent, moving the chains at a 70.76% rate, as opposed to 71.67% for their opponents. The Cardinals are 8th in differential, while the Titans are 17th. That suggests this line should be around 1, at most, in favor of Arizona.
This line suggests the Cardinals would be favored by 9 at home. Last week, the Cardinals were favored by 6 over St. Louis at home. The Rams are not 3 points better than the Titans. The Titans were favored by 3 in St. Louis a few weeks ago and covered in a touchdown victory. The Cardinals also aren’t as good on the road as at home. While they are 6-1 at home, including wins over Detroit, Carolina, and Indianapolis, on the road, they’ve lost in St. Louis, Philadelphia, got blown out in San Francisco and New Orleans, and their only wins were against Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, who each started the season 0-8. As long as this line is 3, giving us field goal protection, Tennessee is my Pick of the Week.
Tennessee Titans 20 Arizona Cardinals 13 Upset Pick +130
Pick against spread: Tennessee +3
Confidence: Pick of the Week