TENNESSEE (-7.0) 24 Buffalo 17June 24, 2016
The Titans have won 2 consecutive games after losing their first 6 games of the season and they still believe that they can win out and make the playoffs. That confidence is actually not too far fetched, as the Titans rate at 0.2 yppl better than average offensively for the season (5.5 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team) and their defense rates at 0.2 yppl better than average with star CB Cortland Finnegan playing.
The Titans were forced to start a rookie cornerback with Finnegan out in weeks 4 and 5 and then two rookies started at corner in week 6 against the Patriots after Nick Harper joined Finnegan on the sidelines. Veteran CB Roderick Hood has started the last two games with Finnegan and Hood is an upgrade over Harper, so the Titans are once again strong in the secondary.
With Tennessee being above average defensively with their current lineup, the Titans certainly have an advantage over a Bills' team that struggles offensively (4.5 yppl against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team) and isn't much better with quarterback Trent Edwards back this week after missing a few games. Edwards has only averaged 5.1 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.3 yppp to an average team) and the Bills' rushing attack went south when Marshawn Lynch (3.1 ypr) started taking carries away from Fred Jackson (4.0 ypr).
Buffalo's injury ravaged defense has held up pretty well against the pass (5.4 yards per pass play allowed to quarterbacks that would average 6.5 yppp against an average team) and S Donte Whitner is expected back this week along with SS Bryon Scott (both have been injured since week 4). However, CB Terrence McGee is expected to miss a couple of weeks with an injured knee, so it's tough to know whether the Bills will be even better against the pass or not. Having Whitner back should help against the run, but the Bills need a lot of help in that department, as they've allowed 5.3 ypr this season to teams that would combine to average 4.3 ypr against an average defensive team.
Not being able to stop the run is a huge problem against the league's leading rusher Chris Johnson, who has 959 yards at 6.7 ypr. The Titans are running even more than normal with Vince Young at quarterback, logging 79 rushing plays the last two weeks while calling just 39 pass plays. Young is certainly more effective when he's not forced to throw the ball too often and he's averaged 7.4 yards per pass play in his two starts. Tennessee should be able to exploit Buffalo's run defense, even with Whitner and Scott back, and my math model is projecting 389 total yards from the Titans in this game (compared to 251 yards for Buffalo)
My math model favors Tennessee by 10 points but the Titans apply to a negative 73-149-3 ATS home favorite letdown situation and a 36-92-1 ATS situation, so the technical analysis favoring Buffalo offsets the line value favoring Tennessee. I'll pass.
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