Two teams that bettors are backing to challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC this season will clash in Nashville on Sunday as the Tennessee Titans host the Oakland Raiders as small home favorites.
The Titans lost a tiebreaker with the Houston Texans for the AFC South title last season while the Oakland Raiders hope to make another run at the AFC West crown.
NFL point spread: The Titans opened as one-point favorites; the total was 53 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 24.9-16.7 Titans (NFL picks for every game)
Why the Raiders can cover the spread
Oakland was a very good road team a year ago, going 6-2 both straight up and against the spread. In fact, the Raiders won their first five road games last season, including a 17-10 victory at Tennessee as a two-point chalk in Week 3. Oakland's defense was the difference in that meeting, forcing three turnovers, with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota throwing two interceptions.
This is an excellent matchup between two young signal callers, with Oakland's Derek Carr looking to show he is fully healthy after breaking his leg toward the end of last year.
Why the Titans can cover the spread
Tennessee took a big step forward in 2016 with a 9-7 mark, and now the goal is to win the division and make it back to the playoffs. The Titans believe that is possible, as do many bettors who have made future wagers on them.
Mariota showed vast improvement from a rookie to a second-year player, and he may be on the verge of stardom. The key for him is limiting turnovers and trusting his running game to balance out the offense. Tennessee has one of the best running backs in the league in DeMarco Murray, and the team needs to rely on him to get stronger as the game wears on.
One of these teams will make an early statement in Week 1 as a sleeper to watch in the AFC. While the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are viewed as the conference's best, these are two potential division winners with a lot of young talent.
The Titans got off to a slow start in last year's meeting, trailing 17-3 at halftime. Look for them to score a couple early touchdowns this time en route to the win and cover.
NFL betting trends
The Raiders are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against the Titans.
The Titans are 9-24-1 ATS in their last 34 games in the early afternoon.
The total has gone over in eight of the Raiders' last 11 games.
All NFL odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.