The Tennessee Titans begin their 2023 campaign by traveling to face the new-look New Orleans Saints. Can quarterback Derek Carr secure the win in his first start with the Saints? Check out below for Titans vs. Saints predictions, odds, picks, injuries, and depth charts.
Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints Prediction
New Orleans’ defensive line was solid at preventing running backs from bouncing outside, but they struggled when opponents tested the interior gaps. Their defensive tackles are still projected to be weak against the run, which is a major issue with Derrick Henry coming to town. “King Henry” ranked 2nd in yards, 2nd in touchdowns and 3rd in first downs last season. Of the 33 running backs with at least 150 attempts, he also was 3rd in missed tackles forced, 3rd in yards after contact per attempt, and 9th in PFF’s Elusiveness Rating. At nearly 250-pounds, Henry is still a bulldozer that can decimate the Saints.
Tennessee actually has a competent passing game to pair with Henry too. New addition DeAndre Hopkins remains an elite intermediate option with the catch radius and hands to dominate the red zone. After an injury-riddled rookie season, Treylon Burks appears poised to breakout on the outside. Finally, Chigoziem Okonkwo led all tight ends (with at least his volume) at yards per route run and quarterback passer rating when targeted (per PFF). He’s a budding mismatch with the size to be a safety blanket for Tannehill.
With a talented supporting cast and a solid game manager in Ryan Tannehill, the Saints cannot afford to stack the box against Henry. Star cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s murky status may also be a significant blow to the Saints – he’s their best option to smother Hopkins. Therefore, the Titans’ offense should see reasonable success here.
On the other end, while Derek Carr represents an upgrade, he’s closer to average than elite. Last season, Carr ranked 14th in Expected Points Added per Play, 31st in Completion Percentage Over Expected, and had the 4th highest bad throw percentage at 20 percent. He loves to air it out and should frequently connect with rising star Chris Olave and deep threat Rashid Shaheed; however, his risky throws can lead to costly turnovers.
That’s concerning against a Titans defense that fields two effective safeties – Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker. New addition Sean Murphy-Bunting also adds a quality corner to a defense that desperately lacked this last season. Look for Carr to put up points but commit a devastating turnover to help Tennessee cover.
Finally, the Titans’ defensive line has the tools to neutralize the run game and harass Carr. Jeffrey Simmons is a force in the middle that New Orleans’ mediocre offensive line must manage, while Harold Landry III and new addition Arden Key can bypass the tackles for a quarterback pressure. Tennessee should win in the trenches more often than not, which only forces Carr into more perilous situations.
Overall, the Titans have the offensive star power to move the chains and the defense to take away Carr’s deep ball. Backing head coach Mike Vrabel is always a comfort too because he’s an excellent coach that seems to get the best out of his disciplined players.
Best Bet: Titans +3 & Titans Moneyline.
Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints Betting Odds
The Saints are favored by a field goal here and hold a -158 moneyline. For a bet on the Titans’ +152 moneyline to have a positive expected value, they must win this matchup around 39 percent of the time. This game also features one of the lowest totals this week at 41.5 points.
Tennessee Titans Injuries: Caleb Farley (O), Harold Landry III (Q),Tre Avery (Q),
New Orleans Saints Injuries: Alvin Kamara (O), Trai Turner (O), Marshon Lattimore (Q), Kendre Miller (Q), Tre’Quan Smith (Q)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Tennessee Titans vs New Orleans Saints below.
EDGE Cameron Jordan and Carl Granderson vs. the Titans Offensive Line
If the Titans are not going to cover, it will be because of their offensive line. Last year, they allowed the 6th most sacks, ranked dead last in PFF’s pass blocking grade, and surrendered a whopping 198 quarterback pressures. Now, Tennessee did make plenty of moves to re-shape the line (including replacing left tackle Dennis Daley, who allowed 52 pressures by himself). They drafted Peter Skoronski with the 11th overall pick, traded for former first round pick Andre Dillard, brought in veteran Chris Hubbard, and acquired Daniel Brunskill, who didn’t allow a single sack across 290 pass blocking snaps (per PFF).
The unit as a whole is far more talented, but they will need time to build chemistry and gel. Tennessee cannot afford a learning period though, as Ryan Tannehill is a statue in the pocket; he had the fourth highest pressure to sack rate in the NFL per PFF.
Cam Jordan and Carl Granderson are in an excellent position to disrupt Tennessee’s offense as a result. The duo combined for 17 sacks last season, so the ability to win their reps is there.
QB Ryan Tannehill vs. QB Derek Carr
Both quarterbacks fall around the middle of the NFL pack – a game manager with some potential to lead clutch drives down the stretch. Which quarterback will vault himself into the next tier when their respective team desperately needs to convert a key third-and-long or fourth-and-short? On the other hand, which quarterback will commit that back-breaking mistake that completely swings the momentum? With average quarterbacks like Tannehill and Carr, it’s always a mystery in terms of the door they will select in crunch time. Since these teams are around the same strength, it will likely come down to whether Tannehill or Carr outplay the other.