Chargers vs. Titans Odds & Picks: Should LA Really Be Favored?

Chargers vs. Titans Odds & Picks: Should LA Really Be Favored? article feature image

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17).

  • The Los Angeles Chargers are 2.5-point road favorites for Sunday's matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
  • Our experts break down the betting odds, including whether the Titans are being undervalued, complete with a pick.

Chargers at Titans Odds & Picks

  • Odds: Chargers -2.5
  • Over/Under: 41
  • Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Odds as of Thursday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

The Titans will start Ryan Tannehill after benching Marcus Mariota during their shutout loss to the Broncos last week.

Should you back Tennessee as a small home underdog?

Our experts break down every angle of this game, featuring Sean Koerner’s projected odds and a spread pick.

Chargers-Titans Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Titans

The Titans’ main concerns are LBs Jayon Brown (groin) and Sharif Finch (shoulder), who haven’t been able to practice. Brown is the highest-graded linebacker on the team, per Pro Football Focus, and is second on the team in tackles. Cameron Wake (hamstring) will be another one to pay attention to as he was ruled out last week and has just one limited practice so far.

The Chargers placed Travis Benjamin (quad) on Injured Reserve, but more importantly, OLB Melvin Ingram (hamstring) still hasn’t resumed practicing practicing. His potential absence would be good news for Ryan Tannehill. Ingram is second on the team in pressures and hurries. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Philip Rivers vs. Ryan Tannehill/Marcus Mariota

You could point to a number of things here on either side. There’s Joey Bosa going against Tennessee’s underachieving tackle duo of Jack Conklin, who has graded out just 39th among tackles in pass blocking this season, and Taylor Lewan, who has given the Titans 121 snaps of bottom-five tackle play (46.4 overall grade, 72nd) since returning from a four-game suspension.

There’s punishing tackle-breaker Derrick Henry going against a Chargers defense that leads the league in missed tackles (57).

There’s Casey Hayward likely shadowing Corey Davis after Hayward held Marvin Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Courtland Sutton to a combined 2-12-0 on five targets while shadowing each on more than two-thirds of their routes.

There’s Jurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones going against LA’s Mike Pouncey-less offensive line.

But at the end of the day, backwards-throwing fumble sixes aside, the Chargers still have the advantage at the game’s most important position in Rivers. While both of these O-lines figure to surrender pressure all afternoon, Rivers still gives his team a better chance to win than Tannehill or some combination of him and Mariota.

Ryan Tannehill-Marcus Mariota
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota

Pressure has been commonplace this season for Rivers, who has been under duress 39.1% of the time — the ninth-highest rate in the league according to PFF. But Rivers has posted a top-10 passer rating while under pressure (80.7) while taking a sack only 12.0% of the time, eighth-best. Under similar circumstances, Mariota crumbled this season, taking a sack on 35.0% of pressured dropbacks — second-worst behind only the abysmal Luke Falk.

Mariota also took the highest rate of sacks under pressure last season (29.2%), but you know who was second? If you guessed the man who will be starting at QB for the Titans on Sunday, you are correct. Despite performing quarterback-like actions that Mariota seemed increasingly incapable of — such as completing a forward pass on an obvious passing down — Tannehill actually took more sacks (4) than Mariota (3) last week against a previously sack-average Broncos team, proceeding to out-tank him with a 7.0 Total QBR to Mariota’s lowly 9.9.

When the backing the Titans seems like the right play, it’s usually too good to be true.

Since 2016 — or what I like to call the “I can’t believe they went 9-7 again” era — the Titans have been a favorite 28 times, going 11-16-1 against the spread and costing backers -20.5$ ROI, according to Bet Labs. Meanwhile, they’ve been profitable as underdogs, going 14-12 over that span, including 8-5 over the past two seasons.

And because the Chargers have a home-field disadvantage and a mandate from the football Gods to forever find new and inexplicable ways to blow games, no one ever trusts them enough to buy in at the right time. They’re 64-71-3 (47%) ATS as a favorite with Rivers at QB, but 41-31-3 (57%) as an underdog, including 34-20-3 as a road dog and 21-6-1 (78%) when coming off an ATS losing streak of one or more.

Perhaps the Chargers aren’t a real NFL team at all, but just a plant from sportsbooks. Either way, in what should otherwise be a toss-up, Rivers gives them an edge at the game’s most important position. Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Titans -1
  • Projected Total: 39.5

I had mentioned earlier in the preseason that if the Titans ever needed to start Tannehill, it likely wouldn’t have much impact on the spread. They’ve had to deal with Mariota missing periods of time and having to roll with QBs like Blaine Gabbert. It wasn’t surprising for the Titans to just bench the struggling Mariota outright and give Tannehill the start to see if he can spark the offense.

I haven’t changed their power rating at all with the QB swap.

While I’m passing on this matchup of two underachieving teams, I’ll be looking to back whichever team loses in Week 8. Both are 2-4 despite having positive point differentials. They also each have a Pythagorean expected record of 3.2- 2.8 right now, well above their actual record. Both have had extreme bad luck in one-score games and are much better on paper than their record.

Whichever team leaves this week 2-5 could be an under-the-radar team for the second half of the season and a solid bet for Week 8. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Titans -2

There’s no buying low or selling high here as both teams come in on two-game skids. Both offenses are an absolute mess, primarily due to horrible offensive line play.

The Chargers at least have an excuse as of playing without their two best offensive linemen in LT Russell Okung and Pouncey. Still, their offensive line ranks near the bottom of the league in almost every stat. As a result, the run game has been nonexistent — Melvin Gordon not being fully up to speed yet doesn’t help — and Rivers looks rushed and panicked right from the snap.

Now, there’s an outside chance that Okung does play as he just returned to practice, but I’d be shocked if he does with such little prep. And even if he does, rust and continuity are major concerns.

Regardless, this is a unit that should struggle, especially on the road in a hostile environment. It also doesn’t help that the Chargers are the slowest team as a result of Rivers constantly snapping the ball with 1 on the play clock, which can give the defensive line a well timed jump off the snap.

The Titans, meanwhile, have an excellent defense. They rank in the top-five in the league in points per game allowed and have yet to allow more than 20. They can also get pressure, ranking in the top 10 in adjusted sack rate. Their secondary is also rock solid, especially with the significant improvement of cornerback Adoree Jackson.

The Titans may also be getting back one of their best pass rushers, Cameron Wake, and be adding first-round draft pick Jeffery Simmons — the steal of the draft, in my opinion — in the middle of the defensive line.

Titans DI Jeffery Simmons’ 2018 season ranked 5th in terms of highest ever grade recorded by an interior d-lineman in the PFF College era

— PFF (@PFF) May 9, 2019

Now, I’m not here to tell you the Tennessee offense will light up the world. The Titans have been a horror show to watch, in large part due to their offensive line, which ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate. But the talent is at least there and Lewan looked like he was finally getting back up to speed last game after missing the first four.

With players like Conklin, Ben Jones and Roger Saffold, I trust this unit much more than the Chargers.

Plus, Mariota deserves some of the blame. He’s not only been wildly inaccurate at times but also indecisive when his first read isn’t there, which has led to some of the sacks. And while Tannehill is no Tom Brady, he has a stronger arm for throws to the hashes and will get the ball out quicker (just hopefully not to the other team).

Tannehill will at least get to go up against a defense that’s been decimated with injuries, especially in the secondary. Injuries have forced Roderick Teamer into playing time and it has not gone well. Teamer has allowed a perfect passer rating (158.3) when targeted, giving up 15 catches on 16 targets for three touchdowns. Los Angeles sorely misses All Pro safety Derwin James. The Chargers still do have an elite corner on the outside in Heyward but it’s not like the Titans rely on a dominant No. 1 receiver in their offense.

The tackling has also been nonexistent for LA. Per PFF, the Chargers rank dead last as a team with a tackling grade of 36.3; no other team ranks below 40. (Tennessee’s defense ranks fourth at 75.2.) This isn’t the Chargers defense of last year but rather a unit that just lost at home to Devlin Hodges and Joe Flacco

In my opinion, the Chargers simply aren’t being downgraded enough by the market. This is a team that has won one game since an OT victory at home in the season opener. And that victory came against the winless, tanking Dolphins.

I hate to side with Tannehill and the ugly Titans offense, but I don’t mind the atrocious Chargers OL and banged up defense on the road here at under a FG. I’ll side with the one unit I trust in this game: The Titans defense.

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