Jaguars-Titans Betting Preview & Pick: Defensive Struggle in Nashville?
Week 13 proved to be my Kryptonite.
The week got off to a rocky start when I laid points Thursday night with a Saints team that was dominated by the Cowboys (who won outright as a 7-point home dog). Things didn’t get much better on Sunday afternoon, as I correctly picked the Ravens to cover versus the Falcons but whiffed on the Colts (-4) at the Jaguars. Despite holding Jacksonville to only a pair of field goals, Andrew Luck and Co. were shutout in a 6-0 loss.
Then bad luck struck.
My favorite play of the week—if not the entire season—was the Steelers laying a field goal to the visiting Chargers on Sunday night. Pittsburgh raced out to a 13-0 lead, then held a 23-7 advantage heading into halftime. As The Greek Sportsbook noted on Twitter, the Steelers had never lost a game at home when leading by 14-plus points. Pittsburgh was an impeccable 220-0-2 straight up in those situations. For those that watched as the Steelers collapsed in the second half, you know that Pittsburgh is now 220-1-2 while leading at home up 14-plus points. Facepalm emoji.
Adding further insult, I decided not to play the Eagles (-6) over the Redskins on Monday night because Philadelphia was only a lean for me. (For those that reached out to me via Twitter, I hope you cashed the Eagles.) I stand by the decision to not chase after a bad week but naturally, Philly covered as Washington was forced to play third-stringer Mark Sanchez following yet another injury to a starting quarterback (this time it was Colt McCoy).
- Spread: Titans -5
- O/U: 37.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The Titans opened as 3.5-point favorites but the line immediately climbed to 4 at most sportsbooks. From there, the number hit 4.5 by Wednesday and as of Thursday morning, is now sitting at 5 both online and in Las Vegas.
As for the total, it opened at 38 but was bet down to 37.5, which is where it sits now.
Most of the betting tickets (64 percent) and money wagered online (77 percent) are on the Titans to cover the 5-point spread. That said, while 56 percent of the betting tickets for this game are on the over, 56 percent of the money wagered is on the under.
The Jaguars are just 1-4-1 against the spread in their last six games versus the Titans. The favorite and the home team are also 5-2-1 ATS, respectively, in the last eight meetings between these two teams.
Let’s start with Tennessee. The Titans offensive line continues to be a major issue. Left guard Quinton Spain was benched during last week’s come-from-behind win over the Jets and center Ben Jones was moved to left guard. Corey Levin, meanwhile, was inserted at center to replace Jones.
The results were mixed. While Tennessee staged a dramatic second-half comeback, the Titans allowed three sacks to increase their season total to 42. The unit remains on pace to surrender the most sacks in a single season since the franchise moved to Nashville in 1997.
Marcus Mariota isn’t the only Titans player that has been affected by the offensive line’s poor play. While the rushing duo of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry have combined to gain 3.68 yards per carry over the last three weeks (up from the 3.54 yards per carry over the team’s first nine games), the league average this season is 4.4.
Despite the struggles of the offensive line, Tennessee still scored 26 points last Sunday. That said, those 26 points came against a Jets team that doesn’t have much of a pass-rush. Tonight, they’ll face a Jacksonville defense that has taken a step backwards in 2018 but the Jaguars also sacked Andrew Luck three times last week. It also registered nine total quarterback hits and held the Colts to only 265 yards of total offense.
Let’s flip the discussion to Jacksonville’s offense. Whether it was Blake Bortles or Cody Kessler under center, the Jags have struggled for two months. Kessler was sacked three times in the win over the Colts. For as bad as Bortles was this season, he had an ability to bail out his offensive line if things broke down. Kessler does not have the same running ability and the Jags’ offensive line is banged-up. (Jeremy Parnell is probable but is dealing with a foot injury while Josh Walker is questionable, also because of a foot injury.)
Jacksonville’s formula is simple: Run the ball with Leonard Fournette now that he’s been reinstated following a one-game suspension and play great defense. The Jaguars rank fifth in defensive DVOA this season so it’s not as if that unit has completely fallen off a cliff. They certainly have an advantage tonight over the Titans’ 26th-ranked offense.
The under is 4-1 in the Jaguars’ last five divisional games and is 6-1 in the Titans’ last seven meetings with AFC South opponents. The total for this game is incredibly low for an NFL game in 2018 but given the projected game plans for each offense, I see the clock constantly moving tonight.
Pick: Jaguars/Titans under 37.5
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Week 6: 4-1
- Week 7: 2-3
- Week 8: 3-2
- Week 9: 4-1
- Week 10: 3-2
- Week 11: 2-2-2
- Week 12: 5-3
- Week 13: 1-3
- Overall: 42-25-3
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images.