Tennessee Titans (4-4) at San Diego Chargers (3-5)
The Titans may be just 4-4, but they actually rank 5th in the NFL in first down percentage differential. They’ve been competitive in every game and have a -1 point differential on the season, despite being -5 in return touchdown differential. Aside from those 5 plays, they have a +33 point differential (which would be 9th best in the NFL) and have quietly played very solid football this season. They have 17 more first downs than their opponents on the season and, in offensive touchdowns, they have a +7 advantage (22 to 15).
The Chargers are also better than their record at 3-5, as all 5 of their losses have come by 8 points or fewer. In fact, the Chargers have lost just 3 games by more than 8 points in the past 2 seasons, 24 games. However, at the same time, they have just 5 wins over that time period by more than 4 points, which is what it’ll take to cover this spread. They rank 7th in first down percentage differential, which is better than their record, but still worse than Tennessee. The Chargers have faced the tougher schedule, but this line should still be no higher than 3, especially since the Chargers enter this game very banged up.
The Chargers have been missing guys like wide receiver Steve Johnson, running back Danny Woodhead, wide receiver Keenan Allen, middle linebacker Manti Te’o, and cornerback Jason Verrett for most, if not all of the season thus far. On top of that, the Chargers will have a number of injured players inactive this week. Linebacker Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, and Jeremiah Attachou are all out and all 3 are starters when healthy, and tight end Hunter Henry will join them, leaving the aging Antonio Gates to be an every down tight end. The rookie Henry has vastly outplayed Gates this season, as the veteran looks out of gas. Close to 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer, so I love getting 4.5 points with the Titans. As long as this line is higher than 4, the Titans are worth a bet again this week, as they continue to be underrated.
San Diego Chargers 24 Tennessee Titans 23
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +4.5