Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday September 13th, 2015. 4:25PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium Tampa, F.L.
by Jay, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Titans +3/Bucs -3
Over/Under Total: 42
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On Sunday the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start of their 2015 campaigns against each other inside Raymond James Stadium. Last year the Titans and the Buccaneers were just dreadful as both clubs posted embarrassing 2-14 marks. However a new season has brought new faces to both sidelines as both clubs look for vastly improved 2015 seasons. For the Buccaneers, Sunday marks the start of the Jameis Winston era in Tampa. How will the overall number 1 pick in the draft play and how much immediate improvement can he make to the Buccaneers offense?
Lost in the Winston hype is the fact that Lovie Smith will be taking over head coaching responsibilities this year removing the continuous disgruntling echoes of unhappiness that we heard out of the Tampa Bay locker room for the last few years under former coach Greg Schiano. Now Smiths task is rebuilding a Buccaneers team that ranked as the bottom 7 teams in the league on both sides of the ball. The good news is that there is new talent in place to get Tampa Bay in the right direction. The defense has had the potential to be solid in recent years but were victims of a disastrous offense that kept them on the field.
Starting Sunday, Smiths focus will be rebuilding confidence on defense starting with a talented pass rush that includes Jacquies Smith and Gerald McCoy. McCoy and Smith combined for 15 sacks last season and will give this defense a foundation to build around especially with linebacker Lavonte David at the next level. The pass defense still has some concerns despite some new guys that were brought over in effort to strengthen the secondary. However, overall this defense has a big opportunity to greatly improve. Of course a lot of their improvement will be dependent upon the offense and their ability to stay on the field.
If Winston can provide an upgrade at the quarterback position, Tampa Bay has the weapons to move the football with wide outs Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. In the last couple seasons, the inability to have any type of passing game has really hurt the running game down in Tampa where defenses have teed off on the run. Perhaps a newly reformed passing attack, can get running back Doug Martin back to the level that he was in 2012. While Martin was a fantasy bust the last two years, he actually has the potential to redeem himself if this offense can establish an identity. This Sunday that potential starts with Winston against a rather poor Tennessee defense that ranked 27th in the NFL last year.
The Titans were absolutely horrible against the run in 2014 giving up 137 yards per game on the ground. The Browns were the only team in the league to give up more yards on the ground last season and the Titans still have some grave concerns for their ability to stop the run this year. While this seems like it would be an opportunity to get Doug Martin going, I still believe that will only be possible if Winston hits some passes early to establish some balance for the offense early in the game.
For the Titans, they are also hoping for similar results from their star rookie quarterback in hopes to turn the offense around. Behind Jameis Winston at the number 1 overall pick, the Titans selected Marcus Mariota who many feel may have been the pick of the draft. Mariota has all the tools to not only be an effective NFL passer but a dangerous running threat as well. The bigger problem that Mariota has is that Tennessee lost a lot of their veteran talent from 2014. Obviously things had to change after a 2-14 season but it is always scary when you start off a season with so many young players. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has done a great job of bringing talent into Tennessee in his 2nd season but now comes the process of coaching and developing. The timetable of their development will be critical into determining the type of season the Titans will have in 2015.
From the betting coin and trends side of the spectrum, the Buccaneers are listed as 3 point favorites in their home opener. The Buccaneers were the better team last year for odds makers despite still sporting a losing 7-9 mark ATS. However, the Titans covered the number in just 3 of their 16 games one season ago. Tennessee has sported a rather solid trend in past meetings with Tampa Bay going 5-1 both SU and ATS. However, these teams have played just once since 2007 giving little credibility to any current H2H situations and roster talent.. The Titans closed out the season with an 0-5 mark ATS as well as a 1-6 mark ATS on the road.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expect this to be a rather ugly offensive game on both sides of the football as these offenses are going to have some growing pains. As a result I like the under 42 mark that plays into the fact that Tampa Bay has gone under the total in 9 of their last 10 games. Take the under 42!