After a monumental comeback victory in Kansas City, the Tennessee Titans take their little engine that could into Foxborough this Saturday (January 13, 8:15 PM ET, CBS), aiming to pull off another improbable victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. It will be a classic fall weekend for football in Massachusetts, with temperatures right around 55° F at kickoff and a chance of rain on the forecast. Below, you will find complete wagering advice for the game, including where to find the best odds and how to bet the moneyline, the spread, and the game total.
Team Injury Reports
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Titans vs Patriots Team Stats
If this is another march to the Promised Land for the Patriots and title no. 6 for the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combo, it probably couldn’t have been set up in a better way for them – both on and off the field.
Where other teams’ leadership structure might crumble when a controversial story comes out about infighting among the owner, coach, and star player (during a playoff bye week, no less), the Patriots devour the drama, and usually serve a side-dish of on-field devastation to their opponent. It’s not that they wouldn’t have been ready for this one, it’s just that, as a bettor, any thought of a lackluster or sluggish start from the home team is null and void – and likely your key to victory, too. We’ll get to that shortly.
Bulletin-board material aside, the Pats are a monster at full strength and virtually impossible to handle over 60 minutes. This weekend, the monumental task of containing the league’s top-ranked offense falls on the weakest team left standing.
You know the formula. Brady is the maestro, like Walter White masterfully dismantling the competition, a massacre set to beautiful music. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been delicately preserved through the regular season, still recording 1,000-plus yards and eight TDs while in cruise control. Expect him to be unleashed against a team that struggles to defend the pass (and was getting torched by Chiefs TE Travis Kelce last week before he left the game due to injury). If Tennessee makes a concerted effort to crowd the middle of the field and take away Gronk, look for Brandin Cooks to take the top off the defense.
But perhaps the best thing Brady and this offense have going right now is the emergence of Dion Lewis as a legitimate workhorse back with loads of big-play potential in the passing game. The Pats employed a four-headed RB-by-committee approach for most of the season, but were forced to feed Lewis late in the year when Rex Burkhead, James White, and Mike Gillislee were all banged up. The limited early-season workload has allowed Lewis to peak at just the right time (222 rushing yards, 64 receiving yards, four TDs in Weeks 16 & 17), and the Pats need him to continue his impressive run, as there’s a sparse group of players behind him if he struggles. As of this writing, there was still no word on whether Burkhead, White, or Gillislee would be healthy enough to play on Saturday.
Lewis has proved effective at both running inside the tackles and in space. The added dimension of his receiving allows him to work as sort of a Julian Edelman-light in short-yardage situations. That’s exactly the safety blanket Brady needs to put up points on highly efficient, agonizingly long drives.
Long drives by Brady and company will keep the Patriots’ biggest weakness, their defense, well-rested and more likely to come up with a big play when called upon.
The Titans showed off their stout run defense against the Chiefs, but they were getting picked apart through the air by Alex Smith before the Kelce injury. You can expect more of the same here.
While it seems bleak for the Titans, there is a path to an upset in any game. Tennessee’s hopes rest in the hands of Marcus Mariota. He’s only in year three, but perhaps the ceiling on his ability has already been shown: a gutsy quarterback with great athleticism and an ability to make plays, just not consistently enough to be elite. He may look a lot better surrounded if/when the Titans surround him with elite receivers, but that debate is entirely irrelevant this weekend; Mariota will be working with the same stable of subpar targets he’s had all year.
Here’s the beauty of the playoffs, though: you don’t need to have an MVP regular season to tread a postseason path to glory. As Joe Flacco will tell you, all you need is a three or four-game hot stretch.
If Derrick Henry shows up again like he did last week, then there’s a chance the Titans could be in the mix in this one.
Like Lewis, Henry emerged from his RB timeshare late in the year, his moment coming after DeMarco Murray hurt his knee and was inactive against the Chiefs. Murray is out again this weekend, meaning the former Heisman-winner will once again see a heavy workload.
While bulldozing people is what you’d expect from this beast of a man, he also has real burst and gets harder and harder to tackle as the game goes on.
Getting Henry going is essential for the Titans to set up their most efficient offense, one which features a healthy dose of play action, an area where Mariota excels. Per ProFootballFocus, “Marcus Mariota’s … QB rating on play action passes was 122.8 this year — first among all quarterbacks.”
It definitely isn’t as evident of late, as New England has rattled off 11 wins in its last 12, but this is a vulnerable defense. Though markedly improved, it’s still the worst statistical D they’ve fielded in years. If the Patriots’ offense struggles and leaves too much responsibility to the other side of the ball, the inefficiencies that seem like incorrect figures on the above stat board could surface on Saturday.
What makes the Patriots so tough, though, is how they take away what you do best, and Bill Belichick has had plenty of time to plan for Tennessee’s offense. New England will likely do everything in its power to limit Henry, forcing Corey Davis and Eric Decker to win some jump balls on the outside.
But there are a lot of ‘ifs’ that need to happen for the Titans to, not only win this game, but even keep it close. As you’ll read below, it’s awfully hard to go against Brady and Belichick in this spot.
Titans vs Patriots Betting Opportunities
Betting the Moneyline
BEST TITANS MONEYLINE: +650
This +650 moneyline at SportsInteraction was the best available at post time.
BEST PATRIOTS MONEYLINE: -850
EXPERT MONEYLINE ADVICE: Patriots (-850)
There are way better things to do with your money than drop most of it onto this line, with such minimal return. Though if you do enjoy sure things, this one is it. New England has won the last six between these two teams, and the Titans haven’t won in New England since 1993, when they were the Houston Oilers.
Betting Against the Spread
BEST TITANS SPREAD: +14 (-115)
Bovada is offering a half-point more than most books.
BEST PATRIOTS SPREAD: -13 (-110)
EXPERT AGAINST-THE-SPREAD ADVICE: Patriots -13 (-110)
When Tennessee won last week, the first thing I thought was: they’re dead. Oddly enough, the next thought was this: the Patriots get their fair share of favorable matchups come playoff time. (Seriously, it feels like they always get an easy one on the way, whether it be Brock Osweiler or Tim Tebow or an injury-riddled Chargers team.) I guess winning your weak division every year has its advantages. But I digress.
The point I’m trying to make is, even though I knew the Titans were in trouble, I believed there was going to be a huge line that deterred me from taking New England. And there was, until the in-fighting story came out. Now I think the Titans are even more dead, if that’s even possible. Take the Patriots -13 and thank me later.
Betting the Game Total
BEST OVER ODDS: 47 (-110)
BEST UNDER ODDS: 47 (-110)
EXPERT TOTALS ADVICE: Over 47 (-110)
This one has early blowout written all over it, with the Titans scratching and clawing to make your blood pressure rise if you took New England -13. If the game goes according to that script, not only do the Patriots cover, but the Titans’ late scores allow the game to hit the over. Think something like 42-21.