Redskins-Titans Saturday Betting Preview: The Josh Johnson Show Rolls On
Kim Klement, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Josh Johnson
Betting odds: Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans
- Spread: Titans -10
- Over/Under: 37
- Time: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NFL Network
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: Even though the Redskins are playing Josh Johnson at quarterback on the road, they are attracting nearly 60% of bets at the time of writing, kicking the line down from Washington +10.5 to +10.
Trends to know: Tennessee scored 17 points in a win over the New York Giants in Week 15, and now the Titans are double-digit favorites at home.
The Redskins have scored 16 points or fewer in each of their past three games. Since 2003, teams that scored fewer than 17 points in three consecutive games are 125-137-4 ATS (47.7%). — Evan Abrams
After pulling off the upset as 7.5-point underdogs against the Jaguars in Week 15, the Redskins are big underdogs against Tennessee this weekend. History hasn’t been kind to teams in this spot.
Since 2011, teams that are listed as an underdog of at least seven points after pulling off an outright win in the same spot the previous week are just 5-19-1 ATS (20.8%).
Teams in this spot have lost 16 consecutive games straight up dating back to 2013. — Evan Abrams
Playoff picture: There’s really only one NFC playoff spot up for grabs, and believe it or not, the 7-7 Redskins are one of four teams still alive for it. But our simulations only give them a 6.2% chance to make it due to having a tough remaining schedule (at Tennessee and vs. Philly) and a third-string QB under center.
The Titans, Ravens and Colts are in a battle for the AFC’s 6-seed. With Tennessee being 10-point favorites vs. Washington and likely to win the game straight up, its playoff chances will come down to a Week 17 game vs. the Colts.
A Ravens loss later on Saturday night would go a long way toward improving the Titans’ odds of making the dance. — Scott T. Miller
Biggest mismatch: Titans Pass Defense vs. Redskins Pass Offense
An unfortunate string of broken legs for a franchise all too familiar with them has left the Redskins with journeyman Josh Johnson under center.
Johnson has only 218 career pass attempts to his name despite being drafted way back in 2009, and his career 5.35 net yards per pass attempt would rank 31st among qualified passers this season.
It’s a good thing he’s fleet of foot, having already amassed 94 rushing yards and a touchdown this season on 16 carries, because taking to the air against Tennessee could be futile — the Giants threw 44 times on Tennessee last week but failed to muster even a single point.
Keyed by First-Team All-Pro safety Kevin Byard, Mike Vrabel’s defense plays sticky coverage, earning the fourth-best overall coverage grade in the league (89.7) from Pro Football Focus.
While the Titans have struggled against top-end quarterbacks such as Deshaun Watson and Philip Rivers, they’ve been absolutely lights out versus lesser passers:
- vs. Eli Manning: 21-of-44 for 229 yards, 5.2 yards per attempt, 0 points allowed)
- vs. Cody Kessler: 25-43-240, 5.6 YPA, 9 PA
- vs. Josh McCown: 17-30-210, 4.3 YPA, INT, 22 PA
- vs. Josh Allen: 10-19-82, 4.3 YPA, INT, 12 PA
- vs. Blake Bortles: 21-34-155, 4.6 YPA, 6 PA
Washington receivers have caught just 15 touchdowns this season, tied for 28th in the league. And with Jordan Reed (2) out, Paul Richardson (2) and Trey Quinn (1) long gone to IR, and Kapri Bibbs (1) waived, Johnson will head to Tennessee without 40% of those touchdowns.
And as if Johnson’s options weren’t limited enough, this is a defense that specializes in bottling up running backs (second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric) and tight ends (fifth) in the passing game.
Those two positions just so happen to account for 54% of Johnson’s targets as a Redskin, a rate that would lead all NFL teams. — Chris Raybon
DFS edge: Corey Davis is technically a No. 1 wide receiver, but he’s had fewer than eight targets in 10 of his 14 games this season. This trend has been particularly pronounced since Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor returned to the lineup in Week 13.
Taylor (17 targets), Davis (16), Sharpe (11) and Dion Lewis (11) have been plenty involved in the Titans’ low-volume pass offense over the past three games.
Up next for Davis is a likely shadow date with Norman, who hasn’t exactly shut down the opponent’s No. 1 receiver on a regular basis this season. Julio Jones (7-121-1), Mike Evans (3-51-0), DeAndre Hopkins (5-56-1), Alshon Jeffery (3-31-0) and Odell Beckham Jr. (8-136-0) were largely able to produce in Norman’s shadow this season.
This isn’t entirely Norman’s fault: The Redskins’ zone-heavy scheme and unwillingness to let Norman travel into the slot (5% of snaps) has allowed opponents to scheme their No. 1 receivers into plenty of success.
The Redskins are one of just eight defenses that has allowed at least 75 receiving yards per game to the opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Which team is healthier? Titans
The Redskins are one of the most banged-up teams in the league. Reed (ankle, foot) has already been ruled out, while Vernon Davis (concussion) and Josh Doctson (lower back) join offensive linemen Austin Howard (hip) and Tony Bergstrom (knee, ankle) as questionable.
The Titans have ruled out linebacker Brian Orakpo (elbow), but should otherwise be mostly healthy with the potential exception of Sharpe (ankle), who is questionable.
Bet to watch: Redskins +10
Stylistically, this game sets up similarly to the Redskins’ 16-13 win over Jacksonville last week: A low-scoring affair with two teams not very interested in throwing the ball. Tennessee is the clearly superior team, but it’s difficult to cover a large spread in a low-scoring slugfest.
The Redskins are getting a big number because they’re on their fourth quarterback, but let’s think about why we downgrade teams due to backup quarterbacks: 1) They are not as efficient at gaining yards, and 2) They are more likely to commit turnovers.
Though we’re obviously dealing in small sample sizes here, Johnson is actually averaging more net yards per pass (7.5) than both Alex Smith (5.9) and the team as a whole this season (5.7).
We were never dealing with a high bar to begin with as far as Redskins’ pass game, so it’s arguable exactly how much worse off Johnson makes them, if at all.
Couple that with the probable run-heavy nature of this game that essentially negates the likelihood of increased turnovers, and there’s a good chance Washington can keep this close. — Chris Raybon
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.