Titans vs. Jaguars: A Thursday Night Football traditional unfortunately like no other.
As if prime-time games so far this season haven't already been aesthetically lacking (more on this later), bettors now get the two most boring teams out of the AFC South. But despite a potential lack of fireworks, there's a lot to unpack for both sides heading into Thursday. Tennessee is playing on a short week after losing at home as a favorite to Indianapolis, while Jacksonville, still with a backup quarterback, is dealing with a disgruntled Jalen Ramsey, who's now on the trading block.
With all that to account for, let's look at the line movements, angles, and more for Thursday.
The spread's been pretty calm throughout the week. The Titans opened as 1.5-point favorites and hit -2, but came back down to -1.5, where they currently are. The market's had to adjust for a plethora of backup quarterbacks already, including Gardner Minshew, who's filling in for Nick Foles. The look-ahead line on this game was previously Jacksonville -3.5 prior to Foles' injury.
It's been mostly "under" money so far on the total. Opening up at 40, that number's ticked down to 39 early on.
Now to the aesthetics of prime-time games ... or lack thereof. All seven games so far this season have gone under the first-half total, while the full-game under is 6-1. "Prime-time" games, they said.
The under has hit in seven of the last nine meetings between the two clubs when played in Jacksonville, though the over has cashed in five of the last seven overall. The Titans have covered in each of the last four games off a loss against the spread (ATS), while the Jags have lost their last four ATS the week after covering. Tennessee's owned the rivalry the last two years, covering the spread in all four games and outscoring the Jags 91-41 over that span.
Tennessee's offense has been terrible as a road favorite of late. The Titans are on a perfect 6-0 run to the team total under when laying points away from home. Here are Tennessee's results in these situations:
Averaging a shade better than 14 points per game isn't going to get the job done.
Titans running back Derrick Henry went off for 238 yards in the last meeting against Jacksonville and should have success again. The Jaguars have faced two pass-happy offenses in Kansas City and New Orleans to start the year, but have allowed more than 80 yards or more on the ground to an opposing running back in back-to-back weeks. Henry's already rushed for 84 and 82 yards against the Browns and Colts, respectively, to start the year, and has had at least 15 carries in six straight games dating back to last season. The Titans don't seem to trust quarterback Marcus Mariota to beat teams through the air, making Henry Thursday night's X-factor.
Divisional prime-time clashes have yielded some odd results. It's also tough to gauge how teams will perform on short rest. Then you throw in the question marks surrounding Jacksonville and it becomes increasingly more difficult to cap. Minshew played well in relief for Foles in the Jags' opener then laid an egg against a so-so Texans pass defense. What do we get from him in Week 3? Also, there's a good chance Ramsey plays his last game with Jacksonville this Thursday. There's a lot to sort out when accounting for the spread or total, so I'll pass and hit this Mariota player prop.
I thought it was more interesting to make a case against Mariota in the same situation noted earlier - how the Titans' offense has fared as a road favorite - instead of the general matchup against the Jaguars. Mariota's single-game high in this spot over the last six contests is 203 yards, which came against the Browns in 2017. Overall, he's averaging 144.3 yards through the air when the Titans are a road favorite over that six-game sample.
If the Jaguars can hold Deshaun Watson to 16-for-29 passing for 154 yards, they should have no problem containing the Titans' passing game.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.