Tennessee Titans (8-5 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-10 SU, 7-6 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEN +2/SF -2
Over/Under Total: 44
The Tennessee Titans come to Levis Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Titans are 8-5, still in the thick of it in the AFC South and the wild-card picture. But after a 12-7 loss to the Cardinals last Sunday, they would like to get back on the winning track. To do so, they will have to beat a San Francisco team on the road that has started to show positive signs. After an 0-9 start, they have won 3 out of 4 games and 2 straight with both on the road, including a 26-16 win over the Texans on Sunday. The Titans dont have the easy lay-up that this might have been earlier in the season.
Its hard to think of a lower-profile contender than the Titans. Thats both good and bad. As a team that was built from the inside-out, the Titans might not be the flashiest team or one that offers a ton of big highlights from week to week, but their turnaround is what speaks loudest and how a long-suffering team has been able to serve notice over the last few seasons that theyre a team on the rise. But they are also struck with a stubborn case of mediocrity, as evidenced by some recent showings, including their 12-7 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. They deserve a lot of kudos for extricating themselves from doormat status, but there is something about them that fails to inspire confidence, namely what is often a lack of overall horsepower on offense and how many close games theyve had with bad teams this season.
The Tennessee offense needs to come up with better than they did last week in Glendale. Granted, the Cardinals have shown a lot of resolve this season and can spring a good performance here and there, but the 7-point output was a letdown for the Titans. Marcus Mariota threw 2 more picks on Sunday and has 14 on the season, including eight in the last four games. He hasnt topped 200 yards passing in the three games. And to make a move this season, they need to get Mariota connecting with guys like Delanie Walker, Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews, and Corey Davis. They should be getting a little more out of that part of their offensive approach. But with Mariota, Derrick Henry, and DeMarco Murray, they have a dynamic run-game and though it didnt materialize last week, look for them to crank it up this week and beyond.
The Tennessee defense has been pretty solid this season, other than a few games where they were really beaten up. But for the most part, theyve been pretty rigid. The line is really a good group and a big part of why its been so hard to run against the Titans this season. Sylvester Williams, Jurrell Casey, and others have been big up-front. They can rush the passer on the right day and eight sacks on Sunday, led by Casey with two. Other playmakers in the front-seven got involved, with Wesley Woodyard, Brian Orakpo, and Avery Williamson also getting to the quarterback. In the secondary, Logan Ryan, Kevin Byard, Adoree Jackson, Jonathan Cyprien, and others have also been effective at making plays, though not always that stout against opposing aerial attacks.
Granted, beating the Giants, Bears, and Texans is no great feat, but its fair to say the Niners are starting to see some things fall into place. For them to be making a little spurt like this says a lot, as theyve done it with a huge bulk of their talent either banged-up or on IR. Three out of four wins is pretty big, as is winning two straight on the road. They have a little bit more of an air of respect heading into the stretch-run of the season. They got a pretty good showing from the offense on Sunday, while the D responded well to the extra support, keeping the Houston offense in relative check.
Though he only had one touchdown and a pick, we started to see why the 49ers wanted to get QB Jimmy Garoppolo. He threw for 334 yards and has started to bring out the best of the 49ers playmakers on this side of the ball. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin continues to play well and was over 100 yards with a touchdown on Sunday. TE Garrett Celek caught a big 61-yard TD pass, with Garoppolo spreading the ball around pretty well. RB Carlos Hyde can be a useful weapon and was on Sunday, with 78 yards on the ground and a touchdown. They still have a long way to go, but are far from the group that looked dead in the water at times earlier this season.
The San Francisco defense has been forced to overcome innumerable personnel issues. A big chunk of their projected starting lineup is on injured reserve. Thats what makes it so impressive that theyve managed to forge some improvement amidst these conditions. Some rising talent on this side of the ball is helping things come around, with DE Solomon Thomas and LB Rueben Foster being a pair of rookies who are giving this defense some teeth. In their last 5 games, they are giving up an average of just 19 points a game. For a defense that has been hit so hard by the injury bug and coming off a few seasons where they were truly awful, thats not half-bad. They really try hard on this side of the ball and its starting to pay off.
This is an fascinating game. The point spread is very interesting, with the 3-win Niners a 2-point favorite at home against an 8-5 team that is trying to solidify its playoff position. Its almost like the book is daring you to take Tennessee. The fact is that since beating Jacksonville and Seattle earlier in the season, Tennessees 8 wins have come against teams like the Colts (twice), Browns, Bengals, and Texans. And a lot of those games were really close wins. And with San Francisco playing well, they fit right in there with the teams that have been competitive with the Titans lately. Still, we see the urgency resonating this week a little with Tennessee and while its the more-square play perhaps, we just see the Titans having a little better value this week getting points. Ill take the Titans.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Tennessee Titans plus 2 points. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.