Dallas Cowboys (11-4) at Tennessee Titans (7-8)
The Titans have collapsed in recent weeks, losing five straight after a 7-3 start. That’s not all that surprising though, as the Titans’ wins were never that impressive. None of the Titans’ wins came against teams that currently have a winning record and almost all came by slim margins of victory. Only two of the Titans’ wins have come by more than a touchdown and neither win was as impressive as that suggests, as they needed a defensive touchdown to push the margin to 9 against the Colts, while their 10-point win over the Packers came against a team in a terrible spot, playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-22 ATS all-time. Meanwhile, the Titans’ seven losses have come by a combined 89 points, leading to an underwhelming -43 point differential, and they rank just 24th in DVOA.
Making matters worse, the Titans have been among the most injury plagued teams in the league, missing several starters on both sides of the ball in recent weeks, and this week is the most short-handed they’ve been, as they are resting anyone who has any sort of injury in what is actually a meaningless game for the Titans, whose playoff chances are not affected at all by the outcome of this game, with a wild card spot out of reach and the division to be decided by the Titans’ matchup with the Jaguars next week.
In total, the Titans will be missing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, four starters on the offensive line, Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, and Nicholas Petit-Frere, feature back Derrick Henry, stud interior defender Jeffery Simmons, their top-3 edge defenders Denico Autry, Bud Dupree, and Harold Landry, starting linebackers Zach Cunningham and David Long, expected starting cornerbacks Caleb Farley and Kristian Fulton, and talented safety Amani Hooker, giving them a SIC score of 53.4 which will almost definitely be the lowest in the league this week.
The relatively healthy Cowboys, on the other hand, are at 86.4 and enter this game 4th in DVOA, so this is a big mismatch. The oddsmakers have pushed this line all the time to favoring Dallas by 12.5 as a result of the Titans’ injuries though, so we’re not getting any line value with the Cowboys. However, I still am going to take the Cowboys for pick ‘em purposes because the Titans’ players who do play may be less motivated than they otherwise would be in a game that doesn’t matter and that the coaching staff is treating like it doesn’t matter, resting players who would otherwise play. There’s not nearly enough here for the Cowboys to be worth betting, but they should be the better side against the spread this week.
Dallas Cowboys 23 Tennessee Titans 10
Pick against the spread: Dallas -12.5