Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots Pick 1/4/20

by | Jan 2, 2020 | nfl

Tennessee Titans (9-7 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS)

NFL Wildcard Weekend

Date and Time:Saturday, Jan 4 at 8:15pm ET

Where:Gillette Stadium

TV:CBS

Point Spread:Tenn +5/NE -5 (Betnow - Deposit $200 and get a FREE $100 Bet!)

Over/Under Total:44

Death, taxes and the New England Patriots in the playoffs. It is that time of year again when we see if the Pats can add another ring to their collection, and their first roadblock comes in the form of the Tennessee Titans. At 9-7, Tennessee has the record of a team that perhaps limped into the playoff draw, but the Titans have been impressive since turning things over to Ryan Tannehill, averaging 30.4 points per game since Week 8. New England certainly knows how to get things done this time of year but regular-season losses to Kansas City, Houston, and Baltimore, suggest this Patriots team may not have the gas in the tank that previous championship teams did, but you know that Brady and Belichick love the chance to prove doubters wrong one more time.

Titan Tough

It is no surprise that a Mike Vrabel led team would be of the hard-nosed variety and Tennessee will bring the 3rd best rushing offense to Gillette Stadium. The Titans are 2nd in the league at five yards per rush, and Derrick Henry won the regular-season rushing title with 1,540 yards. Henry’s production shouldn’t be understated, but Ryan Tannehill is likely the MVP of the team as his play sparked an offense that was among the league-worst with Marcus Mariota at the helm. Tannehill finished with 22 passing touchdowns against just six interceptions and amassed a 117 rating while finishing off the stat sheet with 185 rushing yards with four scores. The Titans are a bit short in the playmaker department with A.J. Brown, the lone standout in the receiver group. Brown set an NFL record as his 1,051 yards came on just 84 targets, the fewest ever to produce a 1,000-yard season. The offense hasn’t produced another consistent contributor, but twelve different Titans logged a touchdown reception during the season, so the ball is being spread around effectively. The low spot for this offense comes with their 56 sacks allowed, good for 2nd-most in the league. The Tennessee defense hasn’t been special in the yardage categories but did get the 10th-most takeaways, and CB Logan Ryan has filled out the stat sheet with four sacks, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 18 pass defenses. In a direct comparison, Tennessee is averaging about 3.5 yards per play more than New England this season under Tannehill.

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Doesn’t Feel the Same

There isn’t the feeling of inevitability with the Patriots this season, and that is showing on the stat sheet. As a team, New England has fallen to 15th in total yards this season, and Tom Brady’s numbers are among his career-worst. Brady finished the regular season at 60% completions, essentially a career-low, and his yards per attempt are down a full yard from 2018 and nearly three yards from 2016. He still hit 4,000 yards passing with 24 touchdowns, but his 88 rating is his worst since the 2013 season, and his yards per game average is the lowest since 2010. Sony Michel could hit the 1,000-yard mark on Saturday, but his 3.7 yards per attempt ranks 40th among runners, and the NE ground game is 18th overall in yards per game. James White is second on the team with 72 receptions and five receiving scores, and he could be a big factor in this game as Tennessee has allowed the 2nd-most receptions (101) to running backs. Julian Edelman has battled multiple injuries but is on track to play and leads the team in catches, yards, and receiving touchdowns. There are plenty of warts on the offensive side, but the same cannot be said for the defense. New England leads the league in total yards allowed at just 275 per game, and their 14.1 points per game allowed is also a league-best. It has been a true team effort with five defenders at the 5.5 sack mark, and three in the secondary have five interceptions each. The team sits at 25 interceptions are part of 33 total takeaways, good for second in the league. New England has held opposing QBs to an average rating of 62, far-and-away the best mark in the league.

Trend Watch

Tennessee is 5-2 against the spread in the last seven overall, and the Over has hit in each of their last four on the road. The Over is 9-1 in Ryan Tannehill starts, but the Under is 4-0 in the last four Titans games on Wildcard Weekend. New England is 7-2 against the spread in their last nine playoff games with a 6-2 ATS mark in their last eight home playoff contests. New England is 5-1 against the spread in the last six against Tennessee. The line has remained steady at Tennessee +5, with roughly 55% of the public money coming in on the Titans. The over/under has grown from the opening total of 41.5, but the current total of 44 is still seeing 56% of the public money.

Wildcard Weekend is the perfect place for the good-not-great teams, and I think that is exactly what we have here. Tennessee is coming with the Derrick Henry battering ram, and New England is ready to counter with the best “run defense” in the league. The Patriots have the home field and a decided playoff experience advantage, but the playmaking ability is relatively equal as both teams lean on just a few key players on offense. The team that can get some secondary production going should see an edge. I am going to give the nod to New England at home, so I’m not looking for the money-line upset by Tennessee, but the five is too much for me to ignore. I think this game gets played relatively straight-up as neither team is turnover prone, and that fact will keep this close throughout. New England could be in a lot of trouble next weekened, but I think they find a way to sneak out a 22-20 win on Saturday, but that total makes the Titans the play.

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