Tennessee Titans (8-4 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (5-7 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 4:05PM EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEN -3/ARI +3
Over/Under Total: 44
The Tennessee Titans come to Glendale to take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. The Titans have started to make their mark at 8-4, winners of 6 of their last 7 games. Last Sunday, they took care of business with a 24-13 win over the Texans. For the Cardinals, the prognosis isnt as favorable, as they fell to 5-7 in a 32-16 home loss to the Rams. Injuries have really sapped them of their resolve and they hope for better in their third straight home game this week against the Titans.
Tennessee has a way in which they operate that doesnt get a lot of attention. They are a team whose strength lies on the line of scrimmage. They excel in running the ball, but nothing they do is very flashy. The Titans are efficient and steadfast, but they keep on winning. A team on the rise, they have built this team the right way and after 6 wins in 7 games, they need to start to be taken seriously. Well see how they finish the season, as this could be a trickier road spot than what meets the eye.
On Sunday, a familiar Tennessee offensive formula for success unfoldeda steady run-game applied behind a good line and an efficient performance from QB Marcus Mariota. Eventually, a more consistent aerial game would be nice, as Mariota had only 150 yards through the air on Sunday. Rishard Matthews returning would help, along with more frequent contributions from Eric Decker, Corey Davis, and others. But its the ground-game that gets the Titans over the hump. They are led by a pair of really good backs in Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. Mariota also chips in with nice runs here and there. Against Houston, they were led by Henrys 109 yards and a touchdown.
The Titans defense allowed some production on Sunday, but even with Tom Savage putting up 365 yards, they only allowed 13 points, including a big second-half where the Texans only scored a field goal. Tennessee used clutch play and some big plays along the way to turn things in their favor. Theyve been getting a lot of big playmaking from LB Wesley Woodyard this season, along with S Kevin Byard and his 6 interceptions. Their line can sometimes control stretches of games. But a secondary that hasnt been very stout could possibly be victimized this week and beyond.
The Cardinals have done the best they can with the cards theyve been dealt. And for the most part, its been one costly injury after the next. Its bad enough that they lost the core of their offense, but personnel issues on the O-line and on the other side of the ball proved to be too much to withstand. Even getting to 5-7 has been a tough task. Helping them is a lot of pride and effort, but without the bulk of what made them good in recent seasons, they are a shadow of what they once were.
While its not an ideal situation on offense for the Cardinals, Blaine Gabbert is an experienced hand behind center and he can make some things happenboth good and bad. On Sunday, there was more bad than good, as Gabbert tossed two picks. Their 16-point output at home was another disappointment for an offense that has been forced to dig deep in the barrel this season personnel-wise. Gabbert didnt get much help up front, with the line unable to keep the pass-rush out of his face. He still managed to be productive, connecting ten times with Larry Fitzgerald, including a score, while also continuing to work well with rookie receiver Ricky Seals-Jones. They hope to get Adrian Peterson back, but Kerwynn Williams was useful on Sunday with 97 yards on the ground.
With the Arizona offense is such a state of disrepair, the Cardinals needed the defense to really step up this season and it just hasnt taken place for the most part. On Sunday, they werent awful, but they werent very good, either. Injuries have claimed a big chunk of this groups level of menace. But they continue to fight, with enough good players on different levels to succeed in certain spots. On Sunday, Chandler Jones continued to thrive as a pass-rusher, registering another sack, as he now has 13 on the season. Safety Budda Baker is showing good signs in his rookie season, with Karlos Dansby still a disruptive force in the middle. And against a Tennessee offense that isnt always electric, maybe this Arizona defense can see some things go their way this week.
In terms of overall motivation, the nod goes to the Titans. They are in a division race and are in no position to start relaxing and admiring their handiwork now. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are more or less out of it. Still, some of that toughness and resolve theyve been showing could pay off this week. The Titans could fall a bit flatter than some suspect in a spot like this. I see the Arizona aerial attack keeping them close and helping them notch the cover this week at home.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Arizona Cardinals plus 3 points. Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a 50% bonus up to $250 at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted betting sites: BOVADA