NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Chargers
I'm not going to even address how badly wrong I was on the Bears-Dolphins game last week in this space on both the side and the total - never quite seen a game like that. Absolutely crazy.
Nope, we'll just segue right to this Sunday's game, the Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers. In my opinion, there have been a couple of fabulous things that the NFL has done the past few years involving kickoff times. One is having that Week 1 Monday night doubleheader where East Coasters like myself get a 10:30 p.m. ET start and West Coasters an actual prime-time game. Hey, there's college football every Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET, so in my opinion there should be one late-night NFL game per week too. Move either the Sunday or Monday night kickoff back to 7:30. Monday probably more likely because you don't have to worry about games running long ahead of it.
The other kickoff change that has been nice is the 9:30 a.m. ET slot from London, which Titans-Chargers has. Last week's Seahawks at Raiders game, also from Wembley Stadium in London, was a 1 p.m. ET kick. Not sure why the change, except perhaps wanting a prime-time window in England (or because two West Coast teams). The league is holding three games in London this year, all on consecutive weeks. Next week it's Jaguars-Eagles.
You keep hearing rumors that Jacksonville will be the team to eventually relocate across the pond as owner Shahid Khan, who also owns London soccer team Fulham, has made a bid to buy Wembley. No offense to the city of Jacksonville, but it never deserved an NFL team. It could be that the Jaguars play half their games in London and half in Jacksonville at least for a while and to help with travel.
The Chargers are the home team Sunday.
Titans at Chargers Betting Story Lines
Before the season began, my Super Bowl prediction was Saints-Chargers. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling too good about that for a few weeks as New Orleans got off to a shaky start and the Bolts were 1-2 with a leaky defense. I'm feeling much better about those choices now.
We'll deal with New Orleans later, but the Chargers have taken advantage of a pretty easy schedule to win three straight and get just a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West. That offense is really humming behind Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen, and finally the defense is starting to play to expectations even though star defensive end Joey Bosa remains out - decent chance he returns after the Week 8 bye. In last week's potential trap game in Cleveland, the Chargers got three TDs from Gordon, two TD throws from Rivers and largely shut down the Browns offense. The Chargers have eight sacks in the past two games after eight total the first four. That's a promising trend, and that pass rush can only get better with Bosa.
Incidentally, it would have been silly for the Chargers to fly back to L.A. after Sunday's game and then to London, so the team stayed in the Cleveland area with morning practices on Wednesday and Thursday before flying out later Thursday.
Tennessee is tied for first in the sorry AFC South with Houston and Jacksonville, but the Titans are broken right now. Marcus Mariota is regressing in a big way, and they haven't topped 20 points in regulation yet - they scored a late OT touchdown in a Week 4 26-23 victory over the Eagles.
In three games, the Titans have been held to under 13 points. That includes Sunday's brutal 21-0 home loss to Baltimore, which had a stunning 11 sacks - one shy of the NFL record. The Titans' offensive line had allowed nine total entering the game. Tennessee was 1-for-10 on third down and finished with 51 yards passing and 106 total. It was the Titans' first time being blanked since 2010 and first time at home since they were the Houston Oilers.
I don't know if Mariota is still hurt, has a lousy game plan, bad skill position talent and porous offensive line or what. Probably some of each. Derrick Henry was supposed to blow up this year with DeMarco Murray gone, but Henry has all of 240 yards rushing and zero TDs on 72 carries. Dion Lewis, so good with the Patriots, also has done little. Mariota's receivers are meh, and opposing safeties are inching closer and closer to the line of scrimmage because there is no vertical threat.
Titans at Chargers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the Chargers are 7-point favorites (+110) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, L.A. is -270 and Tennessee +230. On the alternate lines, the Bolts are -6.5 (-110) and -6 (-118). The Titans are 3-3 against the spread (1-2 on road) and 2-4 "over/under" (1-2 on road). The Chargers are 3-3 ATS (1-2 at "home") and 5-1 O/U (2-1 at home).
The Titans are 2-5 ATS in their past seven following a double-digit home loss. They are 1-5 ATS in their previous six in October. The Chargers are 5-1 ATS in their past six in October. The under is 4-0 in Tennessee's previous four vs. the AFC. It's 11-4 in the Chargers' past five vs. the conference. The favorite is 3-0-1 ATS in the past four meetings.
Titans at Chargers Betting Prediction
I'm going to assume the Chargers have the fan advantage here - oh, I'm sure it will be neutral but they are used to playing in front of basically neutral crowds at home at that L.A. soccer stadium because the stands are usually at least 50 percent for the visiting team.
The Titans have failed to cover the past 10 in this series, including a 43-35 loss in San Diego in 2016. No shot this gets close to 78 combined points like that one. Take Chargers on the 6-point alternate line and go under the total.
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