Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts: 2018 Week 11 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (5-4) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

A week ago, both of these teams were high on my underrated list. The Colts are much healthier after being one of the most injury plagued teams in the league for the first half of the season and have a positive point differential and first down rate differential, despite a losing record, while the Titans now have a capable offense to complement their strong defense, with quarterback Marcus Mariota returning to form after suffering an elbow injury week 1 that limited him for most of the first half of the season.

The Colts were only 2.5-point favorites against the Jaguars last week, so I made a big play on them. The final margin was only 3 points, but they jumped out to a big first half lead, overall won the first down rate battle by 3.40%, and could easily have better days ahead with their roster close to full strength. Because the final score was not that impressive, the Colts remain an underrated team and could easily be one of the better teams in the AFC from here on out. Andrew Luck looks as good as he ever has, while their offensive line, running game, and defense have all been pleasant surprises this year, after years of struggling in those aspects of the game. On the season, they rank 14th in first down rate differential at +1.13% and they are now as healthy as they’ve been all year.

On the other side, I did not pick the Titans last week because it’s typically not a good idea to bet against the Patriots once they get on a mid-season roll, but the Titans were able to overcome that and pull off a shocking blowout upset victory. Despite beating the Patriots, I still think the Titans are an underrated team, as much of the conversation around that game is about how the sky is supposedly falling for New England, rather than about how the Titans are legitimate contenders with a healthy Mariota. Their defense ranks 5th in the NFL, allowing opponents to pick up a first down or touchdown on just 32.55% of their snaps, and so they could easily be a very dangerous team in the second half of the season if they get even decent play from their offense.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost line value with the Titans in the past week, as obviously their home upset win over the Patriots got a lot more attention than the Colts’ win over the Jaguars. Favored by a field goal a week ago, the Colts are now just 2-point favorites, a big shift, considering 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Now as 2-point favorites, the Colts basically just have to win at home to cover this line.

I have these two teams about even (the Titans are one spot higher in my roster rankings), so we’re getting some line value with the Colts. The Colts are also in a better spot, as the Titans could be a little flat after such a big victory last week (teams are 38-50 ATS since 2002 after a home win as underdogs of 6+). That being said, there isn’t enough here for the Colts to be worth betting against a good Tennessee team. The most likely outcome here is an Indianapolis win by a field goal, but Tennessee pulling out the minor “upset” is certainly a strong possibility as well.

Indianapolis Colts 23 Tennessee Titans 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -2

Confidence: Low

New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (7-2) at Tennessee Titans (4-4)

The Titans had arguably their best performance of the year last week in Dallas, posting a +4.87% first down rate differential in a 28-14 road win on Monday Night Football. The Titans have had a strong defense all season, ranking 8th in first down rate allowed at 33.40%, but it was encouraging to see their offense have a strong performance (40.58% first down rate) on the road against a good Dallas defense. Going into the game, the Titans had just 8 offensive touchdowns in their first 7 games, but Marcus Mariota, who has been injured since week 1, looked 100% in his first game out of the bye and led the Titans’ offense to paydirt 4 times. If he can continue playing well, the Titans will be a tough opponent in the second half of the season.

Unfortunately for the Titans, they get arguably their toughest game of the season this week, with the New England Patriots coming to town. Now winners of 6 straight, the Patriots have shaken off their early season funk and have hit mid-season form like they always do. They could also be healthier this week than they’ve been in a while, with tight end Rob Gronkowski, right guard Shaq Mason, and running back Sony Michel all possibly returning from short-term absences this week. The Titans, meanwhile, will be without talented right tackle Jack Conklin with a concussion. It’s not usually wise to go against the Patriots at this point of the season unless you’re getting a ton of line value, which isn’t the case here. I’m not confident in the Patriots though because the Titans are talented enough to give them a game and because they’ve had some struggles away from home this season.

New England Patriots 31 Tennessee Titans 23

Pick against the spread: New England -7

Confidence: None

Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys: 2018 Week 9 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (3-4)

These two teams are pretty similar, both with strong defenses and weak offenses. The Cowboys rank 25th in first down rate at 33.81% and 4th in first down rate allowed at 31.47%, while the Titans rank 29th in first down rate at 30.17% and 7th in first down rate allowed at 33.10%. The Cowboys get a bit of a boost coming out of the bye from their trade for ex-Raider wide receiver Amari Cooper, but Cooper has been pretty underwhelming the past couple of seasons and has only been with the organization for a week and a half, so there could definitely be growing pains in his first game.

The Cowboys are a little better and this line is appropriate at Dallas -5, but I prefer the underdogs in what should be a close, low scoring game. The Titans have a tough upcoming home game against the Patriots next week, but the Cowboys are also in a tough spot with a trip to Philadelphia on deck. This is a no confidence pick because there really isn’t much here, but I like the points for pick ‘em purposes.

Dallas Cowboys 17 Tennessee Titans 13

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +5

Confidence: None

Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Chargers: 2018 Week 7 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (3-3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) in London

Typically, I love going against significant week-to-week line movement, as it tends to be an overreaction to a single week of play. This line moved the most of any of the lines this week, going from Chargers -3 to Chargers -6.5 in this neutral site game in London. It’s not hard to figure out why, as the Chargers won 38-14 in Cleveland last week, while the Titans were shutout at home by the Ravens in a 21-0 loss.

I still think it’s a little bit of an overreaction though. The Chargers could wind up being a contender in the AFC, but their defense isn’t the same without Joey Bosa, who continues to be out. The Titans, meanwhile, have not played well in the past couple of weeks, but they still have a strong defense and won games against the Eagles and Jaguars earlier this season, so I have a hard time figuring out how the Chargers are 6.5 points better than them as currently constructed. I have this line calculated at -3.5, so we’re getting significant line value with the underdog.

There are two reasons this isn’t a bigger play though. For one, the Chargers always tend to play well away from home, which makes sense, as they have next to no homefield advantage. They are 31-19-3 ATS on the road since 2012, including 6-3-2 ATS since moving to Los Angeles last season. The second reason is that big favorites tend to cover in neutral site games, as they tend to be better prepared and have the crowd on their side. Favorites of 4+ are 13-1 ATS all-time in neutral site games. There could easily be more Chargers fans at this game than a typical game in Los Angeles, though you can definitely argue the Chargers don’t deserve to be favorites of 4+. It’s not a big bet on Tennessee, but we’re getting too much line value to pass on here.

Los Angeles Chargers 24 Tennessee Titans 20

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +6.5

Confidence: Medium

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 6 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)

After pulling an upset at home against the defending champion Eagles week 4, the Titans turned around and lost in upset fashion in Buffalo last week. That seems surprising at first glance, but both games were close and easily could have gone the other way. On top of that the Titans were in a much better spot against Philadelphia than they were against Buffalo and understandably played a better game as a result. While they were completely focused at home for the Eagles with an easy game on deck, their game in Buffalo was a trap game, sandwiched between that tough overtime win and another big home game, this game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Even after last week’s overtime loss in Cleveland, the Ravens come in with a solid record at 3-2. They’re a little overrated though. Their offense is improved over last season, but largely by default and, while their defense continues to dominate statistically, their stats have been buoyed by an easy schedule, as they’ve faced 7 backup quarterbacks over the past 2 seasons are just 4-9 in their other 13 games. None of this is to say they are a bad team. With an improved offense, the Ravens have wins over a pair of decent teams in the Broncos and Steelers this season, but they also have road losses in Cincinnati and Cleveland and are not as good as this line suggests, as they are favored by 2.5 points in Tennessee.

I have these two teams about equal. Both teams have underwhelming offenses, but strong defenses. That would suggest this line should be 3 points in favor of the Titans, so we’re getting good line value with the host. The Titans probably won’t be a popular bet this week because of their loss last week, which is probably a big part of why this line is where it is, but, again, that was a terrible spot and they could have easily won, especially if they didn’t lose Taylor Lewan to a foot injury early in the game (he was listed not on the injury report this week). With wins over the Jaguars and Eagles already on their resume, I don’t think that loss should hurt them that much. This would be a bigger bet if this line creeps back up to 3, but even as 2.5 point underdogs the Titans are worth a bet.

Tennessee Titans 20 Baltimore Ravens 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +2.5

Confidence: Medium

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills: 2018 Week 5 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-3)

The Titans pulled off an upset win over the Eagles in overtime last week, but they are not nearly in as good of a spot this week. Last week, they only had this easy game against the Bills on deck, while the Eagles had an NFC Championship rematch with the Vikings on deck. This week, the Titans have a much tougher game at home against the Ravens up next. The Titans are 1 point home underdogs in that game on the early line and road favorites tend to struggle before being home underdogs, going 20-40 ATS since 2012.

I know it’s only one point and that line could easily change, but the logic still makes sense. Sandwiched in between a big overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champions and another big game against a possible division winner, the Titans could overlook the Bills a little bit. We’ve also lost a lot of line value with the Titans as a result of their win last week, with this line moving from 3 to 5.5 in favor of the Titans.

All of that being said, I’m still taking the Titans in this one. The Bills are arguably the worst team in the NFL and should only be picked unless you’re getting great line value with them, which is not the case this week, even with the line movement. The Titans are a solid team now that they’re healthy, with quarterback Marcus Mariota and the stud offensive tackle duo Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin returning from injury in recent weeks, and could easily beat the Bills by a touchdown or more even if they don’t play their best game on the road.

Tennessee Titans 20 Buffalo Bills 13

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -5.5

Confidence: None

Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans: 2018 Week 4 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-1)

Both of these teams are getting healthier. The Eagles got Carson Wentz back from an ACL tear last week, while his #1 receiver Alshon Jeffery looks likely to make his season debut this week, after off-season shoulder surgery. The Eagles are also getting Jay Ajayi back from a game and a half absence with a back injury, though their defense remains without Timmy Jernigan (out for the first 6 weeks on the PUP) and is now without safety Rodney McLeod with a knee injury, although replacement Corey Graham is experienced and has played well in limited action this season.

The Titans, meanwhile, got left tackle Taylor Lewan back last week from a one game absence with a concussion and his bookend right tackle Jack Conklin will make his season debut this week, after missing the first 3 games of the season recovering from an ACL tear. Lewan and Conklin have been arguably the best offensive tackle duo in the NFL when healthy. Marcus Mariota will also make his first start since week 1, though he did play last week after Blaine Gabbert got concussed.

Mariota might not be 100% with his elbow injury and he has never proven he can play well while hurt, but he should be improved over last week after a full week of practice and even at less than 100% he’s an improvement over Gabbert, especially with his full offensive line in front of him. The Titans’ defense has been strong so far this season, allowing the 6th lowest first down rate at 31.25%. If their offense can take a step forward now that they’re healthier (currently 30th in first down rate at 28.42%), the Titans could easily be a solid team going forward.

As 3.5 point home underdogs, I think we’re getting some line value with the Titans, who are also in a great spot with only a trip to Buffalo on deck. Home underdogs tend to cover before easy road games, going 36-18 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites. The Titans should be completely focused this week, while the Eagles may have one eye on an NFC Championship rematch with the Vikings next week. This isn’t a big play, but the Titans should be able to keep this one close at home.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Tennessee Titans 23

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3.5

Confidence: Medium