Tuesday, September 20, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (Week 3, 2011-2012)

Who are the Tennessee Titans? Hard to tell after their first two weeks. Can they be consistent with their success? They'll have a rather simple task with the Denver Broncos in Week 3. But is it simple enough?

The early spread on this game is Titans (-7). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper's Pick and Injury Reports from covers.com as of September 20, 2011. Always keep yourself updated with injury lines because they’ll unexpectedly change throughout the week.

#1: Injuries
The Broncos have been hit hard with the early-season injury bug. Along with DE Ty Warren who is on the IR, WR Eddie Royal and LB D.J. Williams are definitely out. WR Demaryius Thomas, DT Marcus Thomas, CB Champ Bailey, DE Elvis Dumervil, WR Brandon Lloyd and RB Knowshon Moreno are all questionable. Bailey is probably the biggest injury as they need to cover Kenny Britt. 

The Titans injuries include WR Damian Williams, S Chris Hope, DE William Hayes and FB Ahmard Hall (suspension). I'd actually argue that Hope's injury may help the Titans because S Jordan Babineaux is better in pass coverage. Babineaux played last week and the Titans looked like a much better defense (Same went when he played in preseason).

#2: Broncos at Titans: 2010
This is an eerily similar situation for the Titans. After coming off a big road upset against the New York Giants last season, the Titans were supposed to waltz over the Broncos when they came to Nashville.

That didn't happen. The Broncos pulled off the 26-20 victory. Kyle Orton had some harsh words about Cortland Finnegan's aggressive style of play. While the Broncos had 19 rushing yards on 20 carries, Orton was 35/50 for 341 passing yards. Kenny Britt only had 23 receiving yards. The Titans had 10 penalties for 111 yards. The Titans did have six sacks.

#3: Titans' Passing Defense
The Titans have the NFL's no. 3 passing defense as they've surrendered 172 passing yards per game. Of course, they faced Luke McCown in Week 1. While they basically smothered Joe Flacco in Week 2, the Steelers also find themselves with the no. 4 passing defense even after playing Flacco. Flacco is off to a rough start this season. 

I wouldn't expect too much from Kyle Orton. They are without Eddie Royal at the least, maybe Brandon Lloyd and Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos can't really run the ball either.

#4 Titans' Red Zone Offense
The Titans settled for four field-goals against the Ravens. I thought this was a problem heading into the season. They had a lot of good drives but they kept stalling inside the opponent 35. Rob Bironas has been uncharacteristically shaky since the preseason and missed one against the Ravens last week.

Final Predictions:
Having watched every Titans game this season, here's what I'd be most concerned about: Consistency. They really should blow this team. However, I don't know how well they'll respond after such an emotional victory. 

I can't see the Titans losing this after last season's upset. The Broncos are really banged up right now. They don't have a good run defense so they can't put extra help on Kenny Britt or they'll get burned by Chris Johnson. Nate Washington has also had his best back-to-back games since joining the Titans (According to 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, about 7PM CT Tuesday).

The fact is this: The Titans definitely beat the Broncos by more than seven if they play up to their potential. The gamble is if they will play up to their potential (or if offensive coordinator Chris Palmer gets too conservative with the game plan like he did in Week 1). Honestly, this has been an issue with the Titans for years now. Which team will show up?

As of Tuesday's injury report, I'm putting my faith in Mike Munchak to cover the 7. Titans win regardless though. Still, My advice would be to keep an eye on Denver's injury report as the game approaches. 

Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans (-7)
Straight: Titans 30, Broncos 13

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