Zylbert’s NFL Over/Unders: Is the Titans Defense Legit?
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Titans DT Jurrell Casey
Betting odds: Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills
- Over/Under: 40
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
>> All odds as of Sunday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Zylbert’s 2018 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 2-2-1, -0.2 units
Last Week’s Result: Texans-Colts Over 47 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
One of the main storylines a quarter of the way into the 2018 NFL season can be summed up in one word: offense. With teams collectively on pace to establish new records in points scored, touchdowns and passing yards in a season, this will be something to monitor closely throughout the rest of the season.
But will this Week 5 affair between the Titans and Bills continue that trend and contribute to the offensive explosion around the league?
No, sir, I do not think so.
The matchup to watch here involves the Titans’ solid (and underrated) defense tangling with a Bills’ offense that is still very much a work in progress. That’s to be expected for Buffalo after plugging rookie Josh Allen in at starting quarterback in Week 2 — way ahead of schedule — after Nathan Peterman was such a colossal flop (again) in the opener.
Though Allen was able to pull off the season’s most shocking win in Minnesota, it’s still been a rocky ride over the first handful of weeks for the seventh overall draft pick. Etching a 63.8 passer rating, Allen is clearly going through growing pains, something that should continue on Sunday afternoon.
First off, Allen hasn’t been very efficient, completing only 53.4% of his passes. He’s also thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (two). Certainly, you’re not going to strike for a crooked number on the scoreboard with that type of below-mediocre play.
Not only that, but despite garnering one fewer start than most quarterbacks, Allen leads the position in sacks taken (18). This is significant because he’s about to go up against a Tennessee defense that knows how to get to the quarterback often. The Titans have racked up 12 sacks thus far, tied for third-most in the AFC, while their 43 sacks a season ago placed them in the top five in all of football.
Buffalo’s offense also appears to be in a state of disarray. The Bills’ far-and-away best player, running back LeSean McCoy, has had less than 10 touches in two of his three games, which simply is not a recipe for success. And their de facto WR1, Kelvin Benjamin, has tallied a total of only seven catches in four games.
In other words, the Bills offensive unit has been a mess, and it would be difficult to expect Buffalo to suddenly flip the switch on the road against a surging Titans squad that also yields the sixth-fewest points per game (18.3).
Fortunately, the Bills defense hasn’t been as much of an issue. Buffalo is 11th against the run, which can be very useful in this particular matchup against a Tennessee team that can be very run-heavy.
Buffalo is also ninth in yards allowed per play, which would also seem to be pretty favorable toward an under. The Titans don’t jump out as having a big-play offense, and the Bills’ fine defensive play figures to ensure that they have to eat up a lot of clock if they are to put some lengthy drives together.
Of course, we’re going to have to worry about a red-hot Marcus Mariota under center. The former Heisman Trophy winner is coming off a sensational outing in Week 4 that earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week after guiding his Titans to an impressive comeback win over the defending champion Eagles.
But the fact remains that Mariota isn’t very dependable when coming off a victory. In fact, according to our Evan Abrams, Mariota is 9-11 straight up and 5-14-1 against the spread following an outright win — the latter the worst such mark in the NFL since he was drafted in 2015.
I took a crack at one under involving the Bills to open my season, and although they only scored three points in that game, the bet lost because they kept turning it over in their own territory (thanks to Peterman). With Allen at quarterback, we hopefully do not suffer that same fate this Sunday.
Play: UNDER 40 (-110)