Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Green Bay Packers (4-6)
In ordinary circumstances, I would like the Packers a lot this week. The Packers are a disappointing 4-6 and their 21st ranked schedule adjusted efficiency suggests they’ve played at about the level their record would suggest, but it hasn’t helped that they’ve only had four games at home, with their other six games, including a neutral site game, played away from Lambeau. The Packers routinely have among the biggest home/road splits in the league, in large part due to Aaron Rodgers’ having a much bigger home/road split in terms of QB rating than the average quarterback, and this year isn’t an exception, as they are 3-1 with a +6 point differential in their true home games, as opposed to 1-5 with a -37 point differential away from Lambeau.
The Packers are just 2-2 ATS at home this year, but that’s largely due to them being overrated to begin the year, which is not the case anymore now that they are 4-6, and if you look at Rodgers’ entire career, the Packers are 48-21 ATS in Lambeau in games that Rodgers starts and finishes, which is very encouraging for their chances of covering the spread against the Titans this week. Putting the Packers at even more of an advantage is the fact that they’re hosting this game on a short week, against a non-divisional opponent who isn’t familiar with them, a very tough situation for a road team, with non-divisional road underdogs covering at just a 37.1% rate all-time on Thursday Night Football.
It might be surprising to see the Packers favored by a full field goal at home over the Titans, considering the Titans are two and a half games better in the standings, but, in addition to the Packers having a huge homefield advantage on a short week, the Titans also haven’t played as well as their record would suggest, with all of their wins coming against teams that are .500 or worse and their average margin of victory being just 6 points per game. That’s despite the fact that the Titans have benefitted from a +3 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive week-to-week, the Titans rank just 29th, about 3.5 points behind the Packers.
My roster rankings have a smaller gap between these two teams, but the Packers are still clearly the better team in that aspect as well. The Packers are far from healthy, missing two of their most important defensive players, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and edge defender Rashan Gary, but the Titans aren’t healthy either, missing a pair of starting offensive linemen Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones, a pair of key edge defenders Bud Dupree and Harold Landry, talented starting safety Amani Hooker, and top linebacker Zach Cunningham. Overall, I have the Packers two points better than the Titans which, when combined with their significant homefield advantage, gives us significant line value with the Packers at just -3.
However, there is one significant problem with the Packers this week, which is that they are playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-21 ATS all-time. That makes sense, as teams are exhausted after overtime games and understandably find it tough to get up for another game just a few days later. There are a lot of reasons to take the Packers, but playing on a short week after an overtime game makes them unbettable. In fact, I am actually going to take the Titans for pick ‘em purposes, though this is a no confidence pick and I might change to the Packers depending on the final injury report.
For the Packers, their two starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins and their best wide receiver Randall Cobb are all questionable, while stud Titans interior defender Jeffery Simmons is questionable as well. If all of the questionable Packers play and Simmons doesn’t, that would cause me to change my pick, but this is a no confidence pick either way, with both sides having good arguments for and against them. A push is also a strong possibility, given how many games are decided by exactly a field goal.
Green Bay Packers 20 Tennessee Titans 17
Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3