Titans Have to Lean on Running Game
How can the Titans cover the point spread on Saturday night when they’re a huge underdog against the Patriots? The same way they covered as a large road dog last week against the Chiefs.
Okay, so the Titans can’t cover in the exact manner that they did last weekend at Arrowhead. That would require quarterback Marcus Mariota throwing another touchdown pass to himself, Rob Gronkowski leaving the game hallway through like Travis Kelce (concussion) did, and Bill Belichick forgetting how effective Dion Lewis is a la Andy Reid and Matt Nagy did with Kareem Hunt.
That said, Tennessee does have a familiar advantage in the Divisional Round that it had Wild Card Weekend: Derrick Henry.
The Titans used the combination of Mariota wreaking havoc with his legs and Henry punishing Kansas City’s poor run defense to mount a thrilling comeback last Saturday. The Chiefs’ weakness just so happens to be the Patriots’ weakness: Run defense. Teams have been able to move the ball on the ground versus New England, which ranks 30th in the league in rush defense DVOA. If Tennessee can accomplish that feat, the Titans have a shot to at least cover for bettors.
Of course, if Tennessee can’t defend the run itself, then forget the Titans staying in the game Saturday night. Tennessee finished last in the NFL in both DVOA and passing yardage allowed to running backs. The Titans don’t fare well against screen passes either and if Reid and Nagy stuck with Hunt in the second half last weekend, we’d be talking about Kansas City in this article and not Tennessee. Thus, look for the Patriots to get Dion Lewis involved early and often come Saturday.
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Titans are currently 13.5-point road underdogs to beat the Patriots Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. ET in the NFL Divisional Round. As of this writing, 72% of the betting tickets are on the Patriots to cover but 50% of the money is on New England. As for the total, the number hit the board at 47 but has been bet down to 46.5 at most sports books.