Tennessee Titans (0-5, 1-4 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (3-2, 2-3 ATS), Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Sunday, Oct. 18th, 4:15 PM Eastern, CBS
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Titans +9/Patriots -9
A season after starting 10-0, the Tennessee Titans will try to avoid starting 0-6 when they travel North and East to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon.
Most sportsbooks around the internet opened this game with New England favored by nine or 9 1/2 points, with a total of 43 or 43 1/2. And those numbers have held fairly firm in betting action through Wednesday night.
The Patriots are also moneylined at various NFL betting outlets at right around -425, with the Titans getting anywhere from +325 to +375 as underdogs on the road.
Six weeks into the season Tennessee, a pre-season 10/1 choice to win the AFC championship this year and a 20/1 to 40/1 pick to win the Super Bowl, now stands as one of four remaining winless teams in the NFL, along with Kansas City, Tampa Bay and St. Louis. The Titans began the season with a tough overtime road loss at Pittsburgh, a game they could have won, and followed that up by giving away games to Houston and the Jets. And the last two weeks Tennessee has gotten kicked by Jacksonville and, last Sunday night, at home by the Colts.
And they’ve only covered one pointspread so far this year.
New England, the pre-season favorite to win the Super Bowl at right around 4/1, opened the season with a one-point victory over Buffalo, then got held without a touchdown in an AFC East divisional loss to the Jets in Jersey. The Pats then beat the Falcons and Ravens at home, but last week coughed up an early 10-0 lead and lost in overtime at Denver 20-17.
Tennessee is really struggling at the QB position. Fifteen-year veteran Kerry Collins, who got pulled Sunday night vs. Indianapolis but is still the starter, has completed 57% of his throws this season for a 5.8 YPA average, which ranks right near the bottom, with five TDs and seven INTs (which already equals the number of picks he threw all last year), and a 67.4 passing rating.
And when the Titans inserted back-up QB Vince Young vs. the Colts, he threw three incomplete passes and then was limited to handing off on draw plays.
After missing basically all of last season with a knee injury, Patriots QB Tom Brady is, at the moment, clearly not the Mr. Automatic he was a couple of years ago. He missed at least a couple of wide-open receivers last week vs. Denver for what would have been very big plays, and seems to be having problems not just with his accuracy, but with the communication and timing with his targets. On the season, the former Michigan Wolverine has completed 61% of his passes down from his 69% during that ridiculous 2007 season for a 6.5 YPA average down from 8.3 in ’07 -, with six TDs, two INTs, and an 85.9 QB rating down from 117.2 two seasons ago.
The Titans are getting outgained on average this season by a 363-336 YPG margin, but are outrushing opponents 128-75.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are outgaining opponents this year 362-315, and outgrounding foes 101-97, on average.
In playing their one common opponent so far this season, Tennessee outgained the Jets 286-229 and outrushed them 127-83, but committed two costly special teams turnovers that led directly to 14 New York points in a 24-17 Titans loss. When the Pats visited New Jersey, they outgained the Jets 299-254 but got outrushed 117-83 and lost 16-9.
New England ranks third in the league in average time-of-possession at 34:13, while Tennessee ranks 29th at 26:47.
These two teams last met in a game that mattered back in the last week of the 2006 season, when the Patriots beat Tennessee 40-23 in Nashville.
The totals are 3-2 in Titans games this season, which are averaging almost 45 PPG, while the O/Us are 2-3 in Patriots games, which are averaging just 39 points.
On the injury front, Tennessee is banged up in the secondary, and it showed Sunday night vs. Peyton Manning and the Colts. On the other side of the ball, New England will probably be without leading rusher Fred Taylor (ankle), TE Ben Watson (head) and LT Matt Light (leg).
Sagarin’s NFL PREDCITOR rankings at USAToday.com rate the Patriots at 26.1, the Titans at 14.1. Throw in Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage rating of 2.4, and New England is a 14 1/2-point favorite on the Sagarin line.
Z-Man’s Pick: The Titans are playing BAD. Expect a two touchdown win by the Pats on Sunday.