Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Tennessee was originally going to be my Pick of the Week at the beginning of the week. I changed that for a few reasons. For one, the line moved from 3 in favor of Buffalo to 1 mid-week, which is a significant line movement, considering 23.3% of games are decided by 3 points or fewer. Instead of having field goal protection with the Titans, this line is now essentially a pick ‘em. Also, I was expecting the Bills to be home underdogs against Cincinnati next week. Teams are 48-64 ATS since 2002 as road favorites before being home underdogs, while favorites are 67-111 ATS since 2010 before being underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites (the Titans host the Dolphins next week). However, apparently the early line has the Bills as 1.5 point favorites over the Bengals, while this line is dangerously close to Tennessee being favored over the Bills.
That being said, I still do like the Titans a lot this week. The line movement isn’t as big of a deal as it could be for two reasons. For one, the line movement is likely a result of injuries, which is reasonable. Both Karlos Williams and LeSean McCoy have been ruled out with injury, leaving special teamer Bobbie Dixon and Boom Herron, signed this week, to split snaps at running back. Safety Aaron Williams is expected back from a neck injury, but wide receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to miss his 2nd straight game and the Bills really struggled offensively last week at home against the Giants without him. The second reason that the line movement isn’t as huge of a deal as it could be is because it’s probably driven by sharp money on the Titans.
The reason I say that is because the Titans are the better team in the better spot and yet they’re underdogs. The Titans rank 7th in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Bills rank 20th. It’s important to remember that it’s still early (and the Titans have only played 3 games), but the Titans improved themselves a lot this off-season, adding Marcus Mariota, Perrish Cox, Da’Norris Searcy, and Brian Orakpo and I do think they’re better than the Bills. They shouldn’t be home underdogs here, even home underdogs of only a point.
Plus, if the Titans win this game, the Bills could easily be home underdogs against the Bengals next week, which would open up those two aforementioned trends. Even if those trends aren’t technically in play, the logic behind them still holds. The Bills have a much bigger upcoming distraction, a home game against the Bengals, than the Titans do, as the Titans host the Dolphins next week. That hurts the Bills’ chances of going into Tennessee and beating a Tennessee team that is, at the very least, comparably good to, it not better than Buffalo. Even though they’re not my Pick of the Week anymore, I still feel comfortable money on the Titans here as 1 point home underdogs.
Tennessee Titans 19 Buffalo Bills 13 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +1