New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans (1/2/20): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

Week 16: 2-4
All Time Results: 108-94-2, +16.98 Units

New England Patriots -5 vs. Tennessee Titans – .1 Unit

Claim: The Titans are a top 5 offense in the NFL.

Counter-claim: They’re not.

Yes, if we only counted the Titans games in which Ryan Tannehill started, their numbers match up with some of the most prolific offenses in the league.  They have averaged over 30 points per game with Tannehill starting, a figure which would be good for 2nd highest in the NFL over the course of the season.

Okay.  Now if we just look at the last 10 Titans games as their “truth” for the season, can we also claim that the Titans have a bottom 5 defense?

No numbers over the season would suggest the Titans D was that bad, but those same numbers would if we only looked at the last 10 games. Tannehill’s 7-3 run with the team as the starter – for whatever reason – has been accompanied by a Titans defense giving up 25 points per game.

new england patriotsBut Tannehill doesn’t play defense? True.  He also doesn’t run, catch or run-block.  The Titans offense has excelled for a whole lot of reasons that had nothing to do with their signal-caller.  A lot of reasons like strength of schedule and variance that can quickly flip on a hot team.

Personally, I’m wary of judging a team based on any arbitrary endpoint – even when that endpoint feels not so arbitrary, like when we see a replacement QB excel.

Here is why it is arbitrary though.  Tannehill had below-average games in his first two starts with the Titans, two prosperously lucky wins against the Chargers and the Buccanneers.  The next game the Titans were down 20 in the 2nd half at Carolina, before Tannehill leads them back to only lose by 10.  Really the hot streak that we are considering when we talk about the upward trajectory of the Titans stems from the only the last 7 games.

Yes, the Titans beat the Chiefs during that span, an excellent team & SB contender.  But they also had a 90% chance to lose that game at home with 90 seconds to play in the 4th quarter.

They’re next best win could have been week 17 against the Titans – but Bill O’Brien rested DeShaun Watson and all his guys.

The Titans’ real surge then is defined by double-digit wins against the Raiders, Colts & Jaguars.  Well, just to recap the 5-11 LA Chargers beat the Jaguars by 40 late in the year, and those Jaguars beat the plummeting Colts by 20 on the last day of the year.  And the Raiders are the Raiders, also losing to the Jags.  I’m not ready to throw out all my preseason expectations of this team based off of a 7 game sample, especially one with so many cream puff games.

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New England Patriots -6.5 (+117) vs. Tennessee Titans – .1 Unit

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This year’s Titans team is untested against good teams on the road.   Tennessee played only one road opponent that finished the season with a winning record: the Houston Texans, who, again, opted not to play the game. Their next best road win probably came again the Atlanta Falcons who were playing terrible football at the time.

Call me unconvinced.  And I would need a lot of convincing to consider betting against the Pats, winners of 20 of 23 home playoff games this century, winning 59% of those games ATS.

Tom Brady Over 1.5 Touchdowns (+180) – .2 Units

Tom BradyThis from a recent ESPN article quoting anonymous players, coaches and team personnel.  Talking about Tom Brady:

“I don’t know if it’s a decline. I think it’s just he has different people around him with different skill sets. He’s lost a few guys this year. He’s trying to find the right chemistry, and they’re trying to find the right way to run their offense with the group they have. It takes an entire season.”

For a profitable bet at this price (+180), Brady has to have a 36% or greater chance to throw for 2 TDs or more.

That’s not asking that much.  A lot of people chattering right now about Brady’s midseason swoon, one I think it’s important to note that happened immediately following the abrupt departures of Antonion Brown and Josh Gordon.  But if we broaden our sample slightly – or zoom in on just the past 3 games – the numbers don’t seem so bleak:

Brady has thrown 2+ TDs in 8 of 16 games this season, including 2 of his last 3.  Over the past two seasons, Brady has thrown 2+ TDs in 16 of his past 32 regular-season games.  Over the past 3 seasons, Brady has thrown for 2+ TDs in 16 of 27 home games, including 2 of 3 home playoff games.

Brady has thrown 2+ TDs in 23 of 40 career playoff games.

Even though the Patriots have increased their rushes per game considerably late in the season the past couple of years, Brady still should have plenty of opportunities to fire.  Brady is currently a -190 favorite to have more passing yards than Ryan Tannehill.

Saying that Brady chances at 2+ TDs have fallen dramatically is one thing.  I’m not ready to save it should go from a 50/50 proposition to a 30/70 proposition just because he had his first year outside of the top 10 in QBR.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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