Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
These two teams are in very similar situations. Both were awful last season, as both went 2-14. Subsequently, they had the #1 (Tampa Bay) and #2 (Tennessee) overall picks in the draft. Both teams, as so many terrible teams before them have, drafted quarterbacks atop the draft. The Buccaneers took 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston #1 overall, while the Titans took 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota #1 overall. Both teams also play in awful divisions and have a very good chance to pick up a handful more wins this season.
Both teams are missing key players. Tampa Bay is missing top offensive lineman DeMar Dotson with injury, while Tennessee is missing top cornerback Jason McCourty and recently traded left guard Andy Levitre, unnecessarily creating a massive hole at that position. However, I’m going to take the Titans as 3 point underdogs here on the road for 3 reasons. For one, they have the better supporting cast and had the better off-season, adding the likes of Perrish Cox, Da’Norris Searcy, and Brian Orakpo in free agency. Tampa Bay added Henry Melton and Bruce Carter. The former is a solid defensive tackle, but Carter has already gotten benched, as his transition to middle linebacker really didn’t go.
For two, Jameis Winston struggled in the pre-season, while Mariota played pretty well. I hate putting a lot of stock in the pre-season, but it’s worth mentioning with these two rookies who will be counted on so much this season. Three, Tampa Bay’s home field advantage has been non-existent in recent years, as they’ve gone 15-34 ATS at home since 2009, including 5-10 ATS as home non-divisional favorites. Even if we assume these teams are equal (which I don’t think is true), this line should be lower than 3. I’m not that confident, but I like Tennessee’s chances to cover the 3 points and to also pull the upset.
Tennessee Titans 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 Upset Pick +115
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3