NFL Picks: 49ers vs. Titans in Week 7

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 7:13 PM GMT

So much for the San Francisco 49ers falling apart. They’ve overcome more than their share of adversity this year, not to mention the NFL odds. But so have the Tennessee Titans. Who will dominate in this encounter?


For more betting info on this week's games, read our Daily NFL Week 7 Betting Odds Report!

I seem to recall something about the San Francisco 49ers being a great fade opportunity. They were losing key players left and right on offense and defense, starting the 2013 season at 1-2 SU and ATS and threatening to go into a tailspin. So of course, they rattled of three straight victories, cashing in every time. Sweet baby corn.

Mind you, San Francisco’s schedule has been much more forgiving since Week 3. And the Niners have another winnable matchup this Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX) when they visit the Tennessee Titans, who have lost both their games behind back-up QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to fall to 3-3 SU. However, the Titans are still beating the NFL betting lines at 4-1-1 ATS, and they’ve gotten enough early support to move from +5 at the open to +4 as we go to press.

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 Holiday in California

Apparently the Niners don’t care to follow the football betting rules. Their health status definitely regressed to the mean after going virtually injury-free last year, but their performance level has returned to Super Bowl-quality pretty quickly after that slow start. Football Outsiders had San Francisco ranked No. 8 overall after Week 5, with room for further growth after last Sunday’s 32-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (+10 away).

Yeah, but that’s the Cardinals. Improved though they may be, the Cards aren’t as competitive as San Francisco’s first three opponents: the Green Bay Packers, the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts. Those were three of the Top 6 teams on the NFL efficiency charts through Week 5. San Fran’s next three opponents: the St. Louis Rams (No. 30), the faltering Houston Texans (No. 27), and the Cardinals (No. 24). Not quite restaurant quality there.

Harvard Beats

The Titans were in that No. 8 spot with QB Jake Locker (62.2 percent completions, 6.5 yards per carry, 99.0 passer rating) at the controls, but they fell to No. 16 after Locker suffered a hip injury and was replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who came up short in a 26-17 final against the Kansas City Chiefs (–2.5 away). Tennessee could fall further down the rankings after last week’s 20-13 loss to Seattle, although the Titans cashed in as 11-point road dogs.

If we’re going to cut the 49ers some slack for their early schedule, we have to do the same for Fitzpatrick. The Chiefs (No. 1) and the Seahawks (No. 2) were the best defenses in the league through five weeks, and Fitzpatrick wasn’t all that bad against either team. The up-to-date DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) numbers at Football Outsiders show Fitzpatrick at plus-8 Total DYAR, which puts him right there with Washington’s Robert Griffin III (plus-15) and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill (minus-5).

Power Wash

It’s never easy to pick a side when both teams have compelling NFL betting angles in their favor. So I’m going to reverse engineer my sports pick by looking at that tiny 40-point total and going with the underdogs. Both the Niners and Titans are strong on defense, and both rely on power running to anchor their offense – Frank Gore (103 attempts at 4.6 yards per carry) for San Francisco and Chris Johnson (106 attempts at 3.1 yards per carry) for Tennessee. Only nine men have carried the ball at least 100 times going into Week 7.

I won’t go so far as to play the ‘Under’ in this game for my NFL picks, but it’s got all the earmarks of a low-scoring affair, and that generally plays into the hands of the underdogs. May the prolate spheroid be with you.

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NFL Pick: Take the Titans +4 on the spread, available at William Hill

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Take a look at our NFL Week 7 Betting Odds Report for more insight into this week's football games!