New England Patriots (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 9th, 2012/1:00 p.m. EST
Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE -6.5/Tenn. +6.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
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The New England Patriots and their golden-boy quarterback Tom Brady begin another season as the team to beat in the AFC, and this year the first team up with a shot at the target will be the Tennessee Titans when the two AFC teams meet at LP Field in Nashville in the season opener Sunday on CBS.
Even though some of the faces in New Englands huddle have changed around Brady, the Pats are still thinking Super Bowl or bust. Getting back in consecutive seasons is something the Pats have done before, but they will have to earn it again for another deep playoff run in 2012.
Tennessee has its own buzz and excitement around the team and its not because the heralded Patriots are in town for the opener, instead its because the Titans have officially begun the Jake Locker era at quarterback. Mix in a few offensive line enforcements, a fast-as-ever CJ2K Chris Johnson and a solid and speedy defense what Titans fan couldnt be a little pumped for the season opener against the Pats.
Outside of Nashville, however, the announcement of Locker at QB hasnt changed much of anything because the Patriots opened this game as 6.5-point favorites before Locker won the job, and the Patriots are still sitting as 6.5-point favorites at most of the offshore sportsbooks on the Web.
The over/under total opened at 48 and it has yet to move in either direction too, although you might find a few sportsbooks with a total of 47.5 up on their boards for a little extra juice.
When you handicap the offenses in this game, the good news is you already know what youre going to get with Brady at the Pats. But we also know how to stop Brady and the Pats attack though, with in-his-face pressure up the middle the Titans hope to get from a bevy of young tackles inside including rookie draft Mike Martin.
But the Titans offense is likely to be predictable in this game too, as in predictably safe and cautious, with just enough leash for Locker so he cant hang himself. CJ2K will get plenty of touches, behind a solid O-line and when Locker needs to throw hell do it against a Patriots secondary that had major issues defending the pass last season.
If youre looking at history to determine a position on this game, let it be known that the Patriots have owned the Titans for almost a decade. New England has won four straight dating back to 2003, and the last one was an especially ugly no-mercy, 59-0, win by the Pats in 2009. The Patriots are 7-3 SU since 1988 in this rare head-to-head, but during the same period have only covered at a barely making money 6-4 ATS rate.
As far as betting trends go, the Titans do seem to play well early in the season (4-1 ATS last five week 1 openers;12-5 ATS in Sept.) and its mostly because of their defense (under is 4-0-1 in L5 at home, under is 8-1-1 in L10 overall). However, bet the under in this game with the knowledge that Brady and the Patriots usually come out of the chute like gangbusters, with the over posting a solid 12-3 in the last 15 week 1 openers.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expect the Titans to have a solid game plan against Brady on defense, and I also expect that it will be effective for a while. Tennessee will make it hard, but New England wins 24-14 or 28-17 and still covers the number with a late put-away score. Im taking New England minus the -6.5 points.
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