Titans vs. Broncos Odds & Pick: Buy Road Favorite on Monday Night Football (Sept. 14)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images. Pictured: DeMarcus Walker, Ryan Tannehill
- The Tennessee Titans are a road favorite over the Denver Broncos as both teams open their season on Monday Night Football.
- Chris Raybon breaks down the Week 1 game and believes that the recent line move for this game is a result of the market getting it right, not an injury to Von Miller or Tennessee's signing of Jadeveon Clowney.
- Get his full breakdown and bet for Broncos vs. Titans below.
Titans vs. Broncos Odds
The Broncos blanked the Titans, 16-0, in Week 6 of 2019, effectively ending the Marcus Mariota era in Tennessee and kicking off the reign of Ryan Tannehill.
Are the Titans in position to exact revenge for that shutout? Let’s take a look.
The last time these two teams met, Mariota was starting at quarterback for the Titans, and Joe Flacco was starting for the Broncos. As ridiculous as it sounds, that was advantage: Broncos.
But Denver did Tennessee a huge favor, chasing a listless Mariota once and for all. Tannehill entered in relief of Mariota, and though Tannehill threw a pick and the Titans ended up getting shut out, he also went 13-of-16 and hasn’t looked back since.
With Tannehill as the starter, the Titans have rattled off a 9-4 record in the regular season and playoffs, outscoring opponents by an average of 5.9 points per game.
In his 13 starts, Tannehill is completing 67.9% of his passes for 9.0 yards per attempt and a 27-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s keyed by the playaction, completing a league-high 77.1% of his passes off the fake en route to the league’s highest rating on playaction passes (140.6 including the playoffs, according to Pro Football Focus).
Tannehill also posted the fifth-best passer rating under pressure (86.3) during the regular season and playoffs. Both of these numbers are likely to regress, but this is not a simple matter of Denver being disciplined on the play-fake, picking its spots with blitzes and counting on regression from Tannehill — he also finished with the top passer rating from a clean pocket (122.6), which does not tend to regress nearly as much.
And not only is the Broncos’ ability to get pressure majorly compromised by the loss of Von Miller, but they also got weaker on the backend, losing cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to the Chargers.
The safety play should still be excellent with Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, who both earned top-seven grades from PFF a year ago, but the team doesn’t have a cornerback on the roster who graded higher than 70th (Duke Dawson Jr.), which is not ideal when facing second-year man A.J. Brown, who dominated to the tune of 1,052 yards on just 84 targets and 52 catches last season (12.5 yards per target, 20.2 yards per reception).
And those safeties have bigger fish to fry than Tennessee’s unexpectedly uber-efficient passing attack: There’s a certain someone named Derrick Henry in the backfield.
In Tannehill starts, Henry is averaging 22.8 carries for 130.8 yards and 1.17 touchdowns per game. Add in his receiving totals, and the monster of a man is averaging 24.2 touches for 141.3 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game with Tannehill at the helm.
Vic Fangio is known for his acumen on the defensive side of the ball, but he can only do so much for a unit that finished with mediocre rankings in Football Outsiders’ DVOA vs. the pass (14th) and run (15th) in 2019 and, especially with the absence of Miller, likely has gotten worse. The Broncos will be counting on Bradley Chubb, who has been nursing knee tendinitis and is questionable for this game, though he is expected to suit up.
The Broncos were one of the on-paper winners of the offseason after drafting wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively, but rookie wide receivers don’t influence games as much as quarterbacks and offensive lines. And from that vantage point, Denver’s outlook ranges anywhere from uncertain to worrisome.
Let’s start with the quarterback: Drew Lock.
The 2019 second-rounder has garnered hype after leading the Broncos to a 4-1 record. But a closer look reveals the Broncos averaged only 21.4 points in his starts, and 36% off the offense’s scoring output came in a 38-24 shellacking of a J.J. Watt-less Texans defense in what was obviously a trap game for them. Even with Lock throwing for 309 yards on just 27 attempts in that game, his yards per attempt mark for the season stands at a subpar 6.5.
Lock’s once-promising pass-catcher corps has largely disintegrated, at least as far as Week 1 is concerned.
Jeudy failed to separate from incumbent Tim Patrick in camp, and the two are listed as co-starters on the team’s official depth chart. Hamler (hamstring) is on the wrong side of questionable. And No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton is a 50-50 proposition with a shoulder sprain, which could limit his ability to separate from press coverage even if he plays. That Sutton will likely be limited is a major break for the Titans, who will be without top cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee).
And lost in all the hype for the 2020 offense was the fact that Sutton’s numbers actually took a hit with Lock behind center:
- Sutton in Weeks 1-12 (without Lock): 7.8 targets, 4.6 receptions, 75.6 yards, 0.4 TDs
- Sutton in Weeks 13-17 (with Lock): 8.0 targets, 4.4 receptions, 56 yards, 0.4 TDs
And while the Broncos lost a pass rusher in Miller, the Titans gained one with the signing of Jadeveon Clowney. His addition is bad news for a Broncos offensive line that saw right tackle Ja’Wuan James opt out, will start a rookie at center in Lloyd Cushenberry III, and features at left tackle Garett Bolles who is better known on the gridiron as “holding, No. 72” after committing a whopping 17 penalties last season and 45 in his 48-game pro career.
Denver will have to rely on free-agent signing Melvin Gordon and holdover Phillip Lindsay to keep the offense on schedule against what was a respectable Tennessee run defense last season (11th in DVOA), but if the Broncos get behind and are forced to abandon the run, watch out — here are Lock’s numbers when leading/tied/trailing:
- Lock when leading: 72.7% comp, 7.4 yards per attempt
- Lock while tied: 63.9% comp, 6.5 yards per attempt
- Lock when trailing: 56.9% comp, 5.8 yards per attempt
The Broncos were favored at one point, but I wouldn’t chalk up the movement to the Broncos losing Miller and the Titans signing Clowney; the line was off from the beginning, and simply corrected course as the game drew nearer.
Mike Vrabel’s squad has the advantage over Fangio’s in nearly every facet, and one of Denver biggest potential edges — home-field — could be suppressed due to lack of fans, and due to the fact that Tennessee’s best player (Henry) arguably qualifies as the least likely player in the league to get tired due to elevation.
I initially bet the Titans way back when they were +3 dogs and added in some Titans moneyline after the Miller news (at -126), but I would bet Tennessee at -3 or better on the spread and -180 or better on the moneyline. If Sutton is ruled out, I would increase the moneyline threshold to -200.
Additionally, I will be looking to live bet the Titans at better odds than close if the Broncos get out to a small lead — say a field goal or a 7-3 lead — knowing that Denver’s odds of winning would drop considerably if Tennessee were to tie the game or take the lead.
PICKS: Titans -3; Titans ML -162