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Patriots should beat Titans, but their Wild Card game will be a close one

The Patriots host the Titans in a matchup where the better quarterback right now might not be Tom Brady. We break down what to make of this and pick it against the spread.

Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans hands off to running back Derrick Henry against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game at RingCentral Coliseum on December 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The New England Patriots host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday in a Wild Card round matchup pitting two quarterbacks that some would argue are going in different directions in a way none of us expected. Tom Brady is dealing with elbow issues and has struggled with consistency this season. On the other side, Ryan Tannehill has been on a roll since replacing Marcus Mariota in the starting lineup. The Titans have gone from a mediocre offense under Mariota to the top team when it comes to going over the point total with Tannehill.

The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. and weather could make for an important angle on this game. Rain is expected, but for the time being it should not get cold enough for snow. There will be some wind, but nothing too major. It will be worth tracking the temperature and any potential dips.

Injury report

Titans

The big news for Tennessee is the return of Adoree’ Jackson from a foot injury. He has been sidelined since suffering the injury in Week 13, but he was a full participant this week and is a big boost for the Titans secondary.

Out: WR Adam Humphries (ankle)
Questionable: S Dane Cruikshank (illness), WR Cody Hollister (ankle), WR Kalif Raymond (concussion)

Patriots

Marcus Cannon was removed entirely from the injury report on Thursday after being limited the first two days, so that bodes well for New England. McCourty sat out Week 17, but with three limited workouts will likely push hard to play on Saturday.

Questionable: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee), S Terrence Brooks (groin), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder), CB Jonathan Jones (groin), CB Jason McCourty (groin)

Betting splits

The betting public is split pretty evenly on this game at DraftKings Sportsbook. 53 percent of the handle and 54 percent of tickets bet on the money line (team to win) are on New England. Meanwhile, there is an even split of handle on the point spread (Patriots -5), and 57 percent of tickets are on the Titans to cover. The point total sits at 45 on Friday, and the over is getting the majority of the action, with 57 percent of handle and 53 percent of tickets bet on the over.

Pick Against the Spread

Early in the week, I was leaning Titans to cover at +4.5, Patriots to win straight up, and over the point total of then 44. Three days later, I’m sticking with that. I really like the return of Adoree’ Jackson in Tennessee’s secondary. Even if we see a resurgence from the Patriots passing attack, Jackson gives the Titans a big boost.

Ryan Tannehill is the biggest x-factor in this game. He’s played extremely well to date, but Saturday marks the first game in which he’ll face a top ten pass defense. The Saints and Bucs both have had decent pass defenses, but a lack of consistency has dropped them outside the top ten. Even after last week’s game against Miami, New England still has the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL. That’s a serious challenge and we’ll get a better handle on just how legit Tannehill is with this game.

Look for Tannehill to have a decent game, but unable to quite put them over the top. I don’t expect a big throwback effort from Tom Brady, but the offense will be able to do enough to secure a close win. If the game stays under the point total, they likely have a better shot at covering the spread, but for now, I’m seeing something like 27-24 Patriots.

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