Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
The Titans lost last week at home to the Colts, but all things considered they have gotten off to a great start to the season. They won convincingly on the road in Cleveland in week 1 and then last week may have been caught looking ahead a little before a short week, a situation favorites tend to struggle in. They rank 7th in the league in first down rate through two weeks, at +5.02%, despite playing quality opponents both weeks. Built around their defense and running game, the Titans quietly went 6-2 down the stretch last season before Marcus Mariota missed week 17 with injury and they still won 9 games despite Mariota being less than 100% all year and despite facing eventual playoff qualifiers in 9 of 16 games (4-5 record). This season, with a better insurance option behind Mariota, they look well positioned to win the AFC South.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, have gotten off to a tough start to the season, losing quarterback Nick Foles indefinitely in the first half of their first game and missing several other starters (left tackle Cam Robinson, cornerback AJ Bouye, and defensive end Yannick Ngawoue) during week 2. Robinson and Ngawoue are expected back this week, whlle Bouye is questionable, but Foles remains out, backup quarterback Gardner Minshew fell back down to earth last week against a much tougher Houston defense, and the Jaguars also have the Jalen Ramsey situation looming over the team.
Ramsey has demanded a trade out of Jacksonville and, while he’s not expected to be traded before gametime, he clearly does not want to be there and he has gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. He may be playing at less than full speed to avoid injury. I have this line calculated at Tennessee -3.5. In reality this line is at Tennessee -2, which doesn’t seem like significant line value, but about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. In a game where the Titans essentially just have to win to cover, I think they’re worth a small bet.
Tennessee Titans 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Pick against the spread: Tennessee -2