Las Vegas Raiders (0-2) at Tennessee Titans (0-2)
Both of these teams made the post-season last year and now are essentially fighting for their playoff lives, seeking to avoid a 0-3 start. They may have identical records, but the Raiders are definitely better positioned going forward. Both of the Raiders losses have been close games that could have gone the other way, despite the fact that the Raiders have had a -3 turnover margin, which is not predictive going forward. In terms of efficiency, which is much more predictive, the Raiders rank 9th, despite their 0-2 start. The Titans, on the other hand, rank dead last in efficiency, with all three phases ranking among the five worst in the league.
The Titans also had a much higher likelihood to regress coming into the season, finishing last season at 12-5, but ranking just 19th in team efficiency, benefiting from a 6-2 record in one-score games and a +4 return touchdown margin, two things that would be tough to maintain long-term. They especially struggled without AJ Brown last season, which is a problem because they traded him this off-season and, on top of that, they lost a pair of starting offensive linemen this off-season and top edge defender Harold Landry, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Adding to the Titans injuries this week is their other top edge defender Bud Dupree, as well as starting left tackle Taylor Lewan, who are both missing their first game of the season this week. The Raiders have injuries of their own, with top linebacker Denzel Perryman and talented slot receiver Hunter Renfrow both out and starting safety Trevon Moehrig questionable, but they still have a significant edge in my roster rankings. However, it’s hard to be confident in the Raiders against the spread this week, for two reasons.
For one, we’re just not getting much line value, with the public showing the Titans no respect after last week’s blowout loss in Buffalo. The Raiders are 2-point favorites here in Tennessee, suggesting they are the significantly better team, which they are, but that gives us next to no line value. The second reason is the Titans are better coached and that could give them enough of a boost to win a must win matchup. Since head coach Mike Vrabel took over in 2018, the Titans have especially been good as underdogs and after big losses, going 9-3 ATS after losing by 10 or more, including 5-1 ATS as underdogs. I’m still taking the Raiders for pick ‘em purposes, but this is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week and, if Moehrig doesn’t play, I might switch this pick. That’s how close this one is for me.
Update: Moehrig is out, so I am switching this pick, still for no confidence.
Las Vegas Raiders 24 Tennessee Titans 23
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +2