Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-2)
The Bills lost their first game of the season last week, but I have a higher opinion of them coming out of that game than going into it. Their 3-0 start came against the Jets, Giants, and Bengals, with the Bills trailing in the fourth quarter in two of those games. Against the also 3-0 Patriots, the Bills were in the game late and could have won had they not had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown earlier in the game. Their offense predictably struggled against a dominant New England defense, but their defense was very impressive, holding the Patriots’ offense to just a 19.35% first down rate (just 11 first downs and 1 touchdown on 62 snaps) and causing Tom Brady to have one of the worst passing days of his career. In terms of first down rate differential, they actually won by 14.45%, despite losing the game by 6.
The Titans also had an impressive game last week, winning by 14 in Atlanta against an underrated Falcons team. They’ve been pretty hit or miss over the past couple years, but their two losses this year came before a Thursday game and during a Thursday game, which can be tough situations, while their two wins have both come on the road by double digits. Their defense, which ranked 4th in first down rate allowed last season and ranks 7th in first down rate allowed this season, is a strong unit and quarterback Marcus Mariota is still healthy, which is a big plus because the Titans went 6-2 down the stretch with him healthy last year, with wins over the Cowboys and Patriots. They also get back stud left tackle Taylor Lewan from a four game suspension this week.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost line value with the Titans in the past week, as this line has moved up from Tennessee -1.5 on the early line to Tennessee -3 this week, despite Buffalo’s dominant defensive performance last week. I have this line calculated at Tennessee -4, so we’re still getting some line value with the Titans, but not nearly enough to bet them confidently. They should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a low confidence pick.
Tennessee Titans 17 Buffalo Bills 13
Pick against the spread: Tennessee -3