Tennessee Titans (4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (3-5 SU, 5-3 ATS)
Week 9 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: TEN +5/SD -5
Over/Under Total: 47
The Tennessee Titans come into Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday to face the San Diego Chargers in a key AFC matchup. Tennessee has gotten to .500, one win away from equaling their combined win total of the past two seasons. Last Thursday, they beat the Jaguars, 36-22, for their third win in four games. Things are looking up for the Titans, but a cross-country trip to San Diego looms as a tricky road spot. And the Chargers will be looking to atone for a tough road loss on Sunday to the Broncos, 27-19. After winning two straight, the Chargers tried to hang in there the best they could, but turnovers and mistakes undermined their effort. They look to get back on the right track on Sunday.
Tennessee looked pretty good against Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football, taking a 27-0 lead and taking the Jags out of the game. QB Marcus Mariota was very sharp on 18-for-22 passing with 270 yards and 2 TD throws. Mariota is sometimes off-the-mark, but he is very on-point when he is on and is developing better consistency, as he is still a young work-in-progress. Always a big help to a young QB is a good back and they're getting great play from DeMarco Murray this season, with 756 yards on the ground and 28 receptions. Also chipping in is Derrick Henry, the rookie back.
Through the air, Tennessee relies on TE Delanie Wright, Tajae Sharpe, Kendall Wright, Rishard Matthews, and others. Granted, their aerial attack is anything but explosive, but between Murray, Henry, and Mariota, there aren't many teams that can run the ball as well as the Titans can. They're averaging over 30 points per game in their last four games and look pretty good on this side of the ball. Can they kick it into another gear and score the big win on the road? This is a pivotal moment for the Titans. Win and they could position themselves for a division-winning run in a wide-open AFC South.
The Tennessee defense is starting to really deliver in certain areas. They aren't always that sharp against the opposing aerial attack. But they are really good up-front, both in the area of stuffing the run and in rushing the passer. They've been getting good play from Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, who have combined for 12.5 sacks. They're a top-third unit and have been getting the job done in recent weeks. You have to watch out for teams like Tennessee, long-starved teams that begin to get some success. It can be difficult to get them to part with that feeling. It feels good to win for a team that hasn't had much to celebrate in recent seasons.
San Diego wasn't that bad on Sunday except for a few miscues. There were some goofy penalties, with Philip Rivers and the receivers making some slip-ups, which resulted in three interceptions. But at the end of the day, the Chargers were in the game. And they continue to show that they're better than their record suggests. They can beat any team and that certainly includes Tennessee at home in Qualcomm.
The Bolts have seen their offense hold up well amidst the injury bug hitting them hard early in the season. Rivers is as tough as they come, though his accuracy was off at times against Denver. Melvin Gordon has turned into a valued weapon on offense. Travis Benjamin has been a nice addition to the aerial game, with Tyrell Williams making a nice impression getting a chance with all the injuries. Antonio Gates caught a TD pass on Sunday. TE Hunter Henry and Dontrelle Inman have been weapons. It's a deep group. Against the vaunted Denver defense in Mile High on Sunday, they came up just short. Maybe if Rivers had gotten some protection, he could have made more progress against the Broncos, as the line did not have one of their better games.
The Chargers are dangerous when looking at their results with a broader perspective. Some bad things led to them coughing up some wins this season. Most teams would be 6-2 if in the Chargers' position. They've been in each and every game. Their inability to close out all-but-sure wins is alarming. And they didn't exactly take the bull by the horns in that regard on Sunday, squandering some prime chances to get back in the game. But they are still good enough to make you wonder what could be if only they closed the show better.
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The Chargers' defense has also dealt with some issues, but there is a lot of talent on this side of the ball. For the first time in years, there is well-founded optimism for this defense. Up front, Joey Bosa has been surprisingly effective after getting plugged in several weeks ago. He is getting after the quarterback, forcing the offense into mistakes, and opening things up for other players. Melvin Ingram is a player, as is Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget, Jatavis Brown, and Denzel Perryman. Casey Hayward returned a pick for a TD on Sunday. Brandon Flowers finally got back into action on Sunday after missing some time. They just aren't getting the results because of injuries, but they could start coming around and be a solid group by the end of the season, if not sooner.
This is a tough spot for Tennessee, but they are rested, in winning form, and optimistic over their hard-earned success. This might not be the best spot for Murray in the San Diego sun against an athletic defense. Mariota will get some heat during the afternoon. At home, Rivers should be able to spray the ball around and keep the chains moving. But the Chargers are more appealing as underdogs, which they've been 6 of 8 games this season. With The Titans in good form and the big number, I'm leaning Titans this week.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tennessee Titans plus 5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Tennessee vs. San Diego game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!