Green Bay Packers (4-4 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS)
NFL Football Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, November 13 at 1pm ET
Where: Nissan Field
by Evergreen, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB -2.5/TENN +2.5
Over/Under Total: 50
We have all heard that the NFL loves parity so they must be over-the-moon this season. Outside of New England and Dallas, the panic button is being pushed to some degree by most NFL fan bases. Green Bay is one of the most surprising teams to struggle this season and the Packers head to Tennessee this weekend to take on the Titans. The Pack has been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball and the attempts to plug the leaks in the dam have produced a 4-4 record. The Green and Gold faithful are hoping that history repeats itself as the Packers won the Superbowl the last time they sat at .500 after eight games. Aaron Rodgers was there then and is here now to attempt another miracle turnaround but an upwardly mobile Titans team looks to provide a test for the more veteran Packers. Marcus Mariota is showing signs of progress in his second year and the result of this game could very well hinge on what QB has the better day.
Green Bay is a betting darling and 74% of the public money is currently on the Packers to cover a 2.5 point spread. You could read for days about the fact and fiction of the home dog but before you blindly plunk down your bet on Tennessee, remember that Green Bay is 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games. A .500 team typically isn’t 4-1 ATS in any category so there is some trend data supporting Green Bay as a consistent road performer. The Packers are the 13th rated Sagarin team in the league with the Titans entering at 28th. Tennessee has played the second easiest schedule to this point, which gives a little more perspective to their 4-5 overall record and if you do the Sagarin math, Green Bay emerges as a three point favorite. The offense-defense method is projecting a 24-22 Packers win, so the computers have this one very close overall.
It doesn’t seem right to see Green Bay in third place in their division but that is where they sit after losing three of the last four games. The Dallas game can be excused given the volume of injuries in Green Bay and the current performance level of the Cowboys but close losses at Atlanta and home to Indianapolis were more troubling. Much like last year when they couldn’t solve the offensive riddle without Jordy Nelson, Green Bay is hit-or-miss now on offense while using WR-heavy looks and short passes. Rodgers is playing well or at least he is showing his skills in running an offbeat offense but the lack of a running game is killing the Pack. James Starks is questionable to return after missing nearly a month with a knee injury. His presence would lend the ability to run more standard rushing plays but the thought is that the Packers will remain pass heavy until game conditions dictate otherwise. Tennessee is 20th against the pass and they haven’t faced a ton of good QB’s either. Green Bay should get Randall Cobb back in an expanded role so there will be the opportunity for Rodgers and Co. to move the ball through the air.
Tennessee has mopped up a few wins against the likes of Cleveland and Jacksonville while losing to teams like Minnesota, Oakland and San Diego. It seems like the Titans aren’t quite to the level of beating a team they aren’t at least shoulder-to-shoulder with although there is promise that they could do so soon. The running game behind DeMarco Murray and supplemented with Mariota’s legs ranks 3rd in the league. Green Bay is the toughest team to run against so far as they are allowing just 76 rushing yards per game. The Titans are without Derrick Henry after a calf strain and the Packers expect Clay Matthews back for this game. That could mean some tough sledding for the run game and that puts the pressure firmly on Mariota. The second year QB is emerging as a player in the league by averaging 7.5 yards per attempt and completing 63% of his passes with 17 touchdowns. He is still sheltered a bit by the run-first scheme, it will be interesting to see his level of play if this game turns into a shootout or Tennessee is trailing late.
The volatility of the Packers passing game gives the Titans the edge if this turns into a third down conversion contest. Tennessee stays on schedule as they say and converts third and short looks at nearly a 48% clip. Green Bay faces a lot of third and long scenarios, especially if they aren’t executing early and that has led them to stalled drives. There isn’t a lot of difference between these teams in key stat categories so this feels like a coin flip game with Green Bay possessing the higher ceiling but also the bigger bust potential.
The Green Bay defense needs to cover the middle of the field in order to win this game. Delanie Walker is a playmaker at tight end and one of Mariota’s favorite targets. Walker averages 13.5 yards per catch which is a high rate for a TE. Contrast that with 13.4 yards per catch for Jordy Nelson and 10.6 for Davante Adams as the leading receivers for Green Bay. Murray is active as a check down and Mariota can run up the seam as well so watch for Tennessee to attack in between the numbers. Matthews’ return to the lineup certainly helps the Packers at the linebacker level but Clay is often the best pass rush option which leaves the middle open if he doesn’t get home.
This is a sneaky good game on paper, one that the Packers could easily lose. I think there is enough veteran leadership amongst the players however and Green Bay will put in a solid back-to-the-wall effort. I would like the Titans chances a bit more if they had performed better against San Diego last week. The offense was on point but the defense was continually gashed. Rodgers is not the quarterback to be facing when you have a lack of execution as it appears Tennessee might. This one stays close for most of the game but Green Bay sneaks out with a 23-16 win. The 2.5 points do not scare me.
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay
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