NFL Picks, Predictions: Our 4 Best Bets for Titans vs. Jaguars
Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Henry.
- Two AFC playoff seeds could be sealed on Saturday night.
- The Chiefs could seal the No. 1 seed vs. the Raiders, while Titans vs. Jaguars will decide the AFC South.
- Our staff has six best bets for this doubleheader. Check out our NFL picks below.
On Saturday, we look for NFL picks on two games with big AFC playoff implications.
First, the Chiefs look to seal the AFC No. 1 seed — but not necessarily home-field advantage — against the Raiders. Then, we look for Titans vs. Jaguars predictions with the AFC South on the line.
NFL Odds & Picks
John LanFranca: As bad of a season as it’s been for the Raiders, they still come into this game boasting a 5-2 against the spread (ATS) record at home.
Jarrett Stidham led an offense that looked like a well-oiled machine against one of the league’s best defenses — only Patrick Mahomes has thrown for more yards versus the 49ers this season. Stidham also isn’t your typical backup coming in late in the season for the sake of making a change. He knows Josh McDaniel’s system very well and has the benefit of something Derek Carr rarely had — all of Las Vegas’ offensive weapons are healthy.
The Chiefs defense ranks 22nd in DVOA over their past five games and 25th against the pass. Last week, Davante Adams received over 30% of the targets in the passing game, and I once again expect that to be the gameplan. Kansas City ranks 31st in DVOA against the opposition’s top wide receiver.
Teams with an 80% win percentage facing a team with a record below .500 in the final two weeks of the regular season are 4-11 (26.6%) ATS since 2016. I’m looking to fade the Chiefs defense whenever I can and this is a great spot to do so — grab the points with the home underdog.
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Nick Giffen: This bet isn’t for the faint of heart because I can see these two teams scoring like crazy — but I think this line has gone too far. It’s moved up from 50.5 earlier in the week — past the key number of 51 — and currently rests at 52.5.
Our Expected Score metric shows these teams have combined to go over their expected total by 8.9 points per game. That’s important, because our “Luck Totals” have gone 20-7 since Week 12 in games where two opposing teams in combination have an Expected Score at least five points different than their actual score per game.
So by going over by 8.9 points per game, we expect these teams to regress a bit toward expectation.
Most of that has come from higher scoring offenses than expected. This should especially apply true to Las Vegas’ offense this week, as the Chiefs will have film Jarrett Stidham to study.
In addition, there are some kicking questions in Kansas City, as Harrison Butker (questionable) has struggled this year and is dealing with back spasms. That means Kansas City has elevated kicker Matthew Wright to the 53-man roster as a precautionary measure.
With blowout potential, I can see Kansas City shutting it down late to protect starters if it gets up by multiple scores.
The Titans fell apart over the back half of the season, but it’s not fair to say they were exposed. It’s more accurate to say they’ve been besieged by injuries. All the focus has been on Ryan Tannehill, but the defensive injuries have been more widespread and impactful.
Believe it or not, the numbers say Tennessee‘s offense hasn’t really fallen off a ton without Tannehill, mostly because the run game has finally taken off as Derrick Henry makes his late-season push.
But the defense has cratered with all the injuries. With Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry and David Long healthy the first 11 weeks, the Titans led the league in rushing defense and ranked top 10 by DVOA. Since then, they’ve plummeted to 30th.
Tennessee’s injury report is starting to clear up. Remember, the Titans essentially took a bye last week, and a number of key starters have been resting for weeks as Tennessee nursed a huge division lead. It’s always been about getting healthy — for this game if needed — and for the playoffs. Almost everyone is practicing for Tennessee other than Tannehill, and that changes everything.
The Jaguars are playing well, but they’ve also caught a string of luck down the stretch. They beat a banged-up version of these Titans, shut down Zach Wilson’s Jets on a short week and lucked into a walk-off pick-6 against the Cowboys.
Trevor Lawrence’s passing offense is hot, but this line is giving way too much credit to a Titans collapse that can be easily explained by injuries that no longer look relevant.
Tennessee has a huge experience advantage in big spots like this, and Mike Vrabel has been outstanding as an underdog. He’s 21-9-1 ATS (70%) as a dog of three or more, including 19-12 SU with a 79% ROI. The Titans also fit squarely into that dangerous group of Week 17+ underdogs.
I’m in a position to cash nearly 25 units on the Jaguars if they win this game, thanks to backing Jacksonville before the season +800 and several times since to win the division. If you lucked into a similar spot like me, I would suggest at least a partial hedge on a Titans +230 ML.
If you do like the Titans, you should probably like the game total under 40, too. Titans unders are 11-5, and a cover would almost certainly be because of the healthy defense stepping up as the best unit on the field, not a miracle Joshua Dobbs game.
Doug Pederson home unders are 33-14 (70%), including 5-2 this year, and Lawrence home unders are 12-4 (75%). Primetime unders are 34-19 (64%) on the season, and non-Monday night primetime unders are 41-20-2 (67%) over the past two decades when the total falls between 37 and 40.
I like the under best, but I also like the Titans. Because they’re likely correlated, I’ll play a +271 SGP on both. Tennessee has been a great first-half team, so if you prefer the Titans early but don’t trust them late once it’s down to Lawrence vs. Dobbs, you can go with that angle. Or you can just go all-in on a Titans ML and under parlay at +530.
THE PICK: Bet Under 40 and Titans +6.5 together at +271
OTHER ANGLES: Hedge Jaguars futures by betting Titans +230 ML
Ricky Henne: I fully expect the scorching-hot Jaguars to have a big day through the air against a pitiful Titans pass defense that’s given up the most yards per game (279.3) and ranks 28th in DVOA (14.9%), according to Football Outsiders.
In fact, I like Jacksonville’s passing attack so much in this spot that I’m backing multiple props, including those for Trevor Lawrence, Christian Kirk and Evan Engram. However, the one I like most is Zay Jones exceeding 4.5 receptions.
Jones has gone from a bust of a second-round pick for the Bills and Raiders to an indispensable cog in Jacksonville’s surprisingly explosive passing attack. People scoffed when he signed a three-year, $24 million dollar contract over the offseason, yet he’s had the last laugh, blowing away his previous career highs in catches (78), yards (802) and touchdowns (5).
The Jaguars offense is humming, averaging 31.5 points over the past month. That includes dropping 36 on the Titans in Week 14, which was their third-highest total of the season. Jones lit Tennessee up that day to the tune of eight catches on 12 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown.
There’s so much on the line in this game that decides the AFC South that I don’t see a scenario in which Jacksonville eases off the gas even if they’re well ahead. There’s simply too much at stake. Throw in the fact that Tennessee’s defense is second in rush DVOA (-24.1%), and I fully believe the Jags will stay committed to the pass game, which will do wonders for Jones’ volume.
Finally, as I was writing this, Darren Rovell posted an article linking player incentives to their props. Jones is listed among them, as Rovell points out he needs two catches to get to 80 receptions, which triggers a $250,000 bonus, and 98 yards to reach 900 yards, which nets him an additional $500,000. That extra motivation is simply gravy on top of what’s already a tasty matchup.
The juice on this prop varies greatly depending on the sportsbook, ranging from -130 to –155. As much as I like Jones’ chances here, I wouldn’t bet it any lower than the -130 I’ve already jumped on.
Billy Ward: The last time these two teams met, they combined for 59 points in in Tennessee. While we’re later in the season — which usually means worse weather — this game’s in Jacksonville, so those fears are unfounded.
The Titans have one of the league’s heaviest pass-funnel defenses, which is good news for Jacksonville. The Jags have a top-10 passing offense by DVOA and rank 19th in the running game. Trevor Lawrence is living up top his first-pick hype, and he’ll have an excellent chance to prove it against Tennessee.
The Titans’ pass-funnel nature also means they’ve faced the fifth-highest situation neutral pace in the league this season. While offensive splits are usually more relevant in terms of pace, we can still project the already fast Jaguars to further pick things up.
On the other side of the ball: Derrick Henry. He’s well rested after taking last week off, and late-season Henry is a major problem for defenses worn down from 16 previous games. He alone should keep the Titans offense moving, awful quarterback play aside.
The 38.5 line at BetMGM is a bit of an outlier, but I’d also take the 39.5s available elsewhere (to -110).
Nick Giffen: The Jaguars pass up on kicking opportunities at one of the highest rates when looking at both extra-point attempts and field-goal attempts.
On touchdowns, the Jags have the fifth-highest two-point conversion attempt rate, going for two 16.3% of the time compared to the league average of 9.0%.
On fourth downs, the Jaguars pass up field goals at the 12th-highest rate according to my field goal expectation model, which takes into account yards-to-go, field position, win probability, score difference and time remaining in the half.
The Jaguars face a Titans team that’s bottom five in pace and allows just 6.2 kicking points per game. Even if opposing kickers made every kick, the Titans would allow just 6.7 kicking points per game.
I’m showing bettable value on the under for Patterson’s field goals made and extra points made. By combining them, we get the best edge.
I have Patterson staying under 34.8% of the time, and would bet this down to -165.