Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
The Titans and Jaguars were both high on my underrated list coming into the season. The Jaguars got their season off on the right foot with a 29-7 victory in Houston, while the Titans lost at home 26-16 to the Raiders, but I think the Titans are the significantly better of these two teams. They finished last season 6th in first down rate differential and significantly improved their two biggest needs this off-season with the additions of wide receivers Eric Decker and Corey Davis and cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson. Their week 1 loss came against a tough opponent in a game they were in throughout, so I’m not too worried about them.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, beat an overrated Houston team in a game in which they won the turnover battle by 4 and returned a fumble for a touchdown, something that they’re not going to be able to count on every week. Turnover margins are very inconsistent on a week-to-week and year-to-year basis because they are the result of such a small percentage of snaps. The Jaguars are a perfect example of that, as they had a -16 turnover margin last season (3rd worst in the NFL) and now lead the league in that figure. Even though the Jaguars beat the Texans by 22, they only won the first down rate battle by 0.22% and surrendered 4 more first downs than they gained (23-19).
Even worse, they lost #1 receiver Allen Robinson for the season with a torn ACL, which is a huge blow to an already weak passing game. They’ll still be a competitive opponent going forward because of their defense and they could compete for a playoff spot in the weak AFC if they can continue running the ball well, but the Titans are a significantly better and more well-rounded team. That’s especially true if talented Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey does not play. He did not practice all week with an ankle injury and is considered highly questionable for this one. Even if he does play, he could easily be less than 100%, which would hurt this defense.
This line is low enough at 1.5 that the Titans really only have to win straight up (only about 4% of games are decided by 1 point). It also helps the Titans that the Jaguars have to travel to London to face the Ravens next week. Teams are 10-20 ATS all-time before having to fly over to London for the week, which makes sense considering how taxing London trips can be for team’s schedules (hence why teams usually go on bye afterwards). The Titans are a smart bet here.
Tennessee Titans 19 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Pick against the spread: Tennessee -1.5