Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)
The Titans had a week from hell last week, as they lost 57-14 in Houston in a game in which they lost quarterback Marcus Mariota with an injury. It was an eerily similar game to their 38-17 loss in Jacksonville in week 16 of last season, when Mariota broke his leg. Those are the only two losses by more than 10 points for a Tennessee team that has generally played well over the past couple seasons. They were even able to win at home against the Texans without Mariota week 17 last year.
Mariota’s injury isn’t as serious as last season, as he only has a hamstring pull, but his mobility will be severely limited in this one, if he can even play. Given that they’re playing the Dolphins, they may opt to hold him out. The Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the league and should be 0-3 right now, if not for 2 missed makeable field goals by the Chargers week 1. They rank dead last in first down rate differential at -9.07%, despite a relatively easy schedule (Chargers, Jets, and Saints). They can beat them with a run heavy offense and Matt Cassel under center.
The Titans are also in a good spot as teams tend to bounce back off of blowout losses, going 54-29 ATS since 2002 after a loss by 35 or more. Teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after big losses like that and they tend to bounce back as a result. That being said, I can’t take them with any confidence as 3 point road favorites, even as bad as the Dolphins are. I have this line calculated right at -3, with Tennessee’s uncertainty at quarterback factored in, and I wouldn’t want to bet anything on the Titans even if Mariota does end up playing, given how limited he would be. This is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week.
Sunday Update: Marcus Mariota is out for the Titans and the line has shifted to -1.5 in favor of the Dolphins. Even with Matt Cassel out there instead of Mariota, I have this line at -2.5 in favor of the Titans, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Titans, even if it’s between the field goals. The Dolphins are a terrible team and are in a tough spot in what will be a week 5 home opener for them. Teams are 27-55 ATS since 1989 in week 3 home openers and the Dolphins have already played games in Los Angeles, New York, and London before returning home to Miami, where they have little homefield advantage anyway (27-42 ATS since 2008, including 12-27 ATS as favorites). The Titans had a bad week last week, but are still a talented team and they should be able to execute a run heavy offense well enough to bounce back from a blowout and win this game. This is still only a low confidence pick, but it’s worth a small bet on the money line at +105.
Tennessee Titans 19 Miami Dolphins 17 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +1.5