The Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams both lost preseason openers last week but for the Rams, the situation is a little more urgent. They’re offense continues to look like a work in progress, so are they worth betting in this spot?
What We Know About The Coaches
Jeff Fisher of the Rams used to coach for the Titans. Moreover, he coached for the Titans against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta in the year 2000. Fisher is 35-34 in the preseason and 0-1 this preseason after his Rams lost to the Oakland Raiders, scoring just three points in the process.
Ken Whisenhunt of the Titans is 10-20 in the preseason and 0-1 this preseason after his team fell to the Atlanta Falcons last week. The Titans did show a lot of spark in their preseason opener, rebounding from a 17-0 deficit to tie the Atlanta Falcons with their backups before losing late in the fourth quarter. That rally from the Titans’ backups is the kind of thing which inspires a little bit more confidence in a preseason betting situation. Give the edge to Tennessee.
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The Rams will again give a lot of repetitions to Case Keenum, much as they did in their preseason opener against the Raiders. Nick Foles, the projected opening day starter, threw only five passes and then got out of the game. You’re going to see a similar rotation here. Since the Rams scored a total of just three points against the Raiders, it’s obvious that no one after Foles played very well. Given all the struggles of the Rams’ offense over the past several seasons, one should not expect a good showing from this offense in this game.
The Titans will once again ride with Marcus Mariota as their starter, intent on getting him up to speed as an NFL quarterback and enabling him to follow up on his shaky debut last week. Mariota committed turnovers early, but he calmed down and led a scoring drive. It will be interesting to see how he responds to his second NFL game, even though it’s in the more relaxed atmosphere of the preseason. The other thing the Titans will watch for is if Zach Mettenberger can continue to play well. He was effective in relief of Mariota last week – he helped the Titans erase that 17-0 deficit and almost beat Atlanta. If he can play at a high level for a second straight week, he will become that much better a second-string quarterback and can build his NFL career that way. The Titans seem to have more going their way here.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Rams have lost cornerback E.J. Gaines for the season with an injury, so they will want to see what they have in their secondary. Mariota and Mettenberger might be able to attack the St. Louis defense more effectively. The Rams also won’t have draft pick Todd Gurley at running back – he won’t play at all in the preseason.
The Titans have an injured tight end – Delanie Walker suffered an injury two weeks ago, so that pass catcher is going to be off the grid for Tennessee. This is relatively even, with both teams’ offenses having reasons to struggle.
Outlook & Pick
The Rams were such a no-show on offense against the Raiders, managing just a mere field goal, that it’s hard to see them radically changing their level of performance one week later. Back the Titans with your NFL picks in this situation.
Pick: Titans -1.5 at The Greek