It might be time to jump on the Tennessee Titans bandwagon. Marcus Mariota is already turning around Ken Whisenhunt's preseason struggles against the NFL odds.
We had a feeling this might happen. The Tennessee Titans looked like an actual NFL-quality team in Sunday's 27-14 win over the St. Louis Rams (+3 away), giving absolutely zero footballs about Ken Whisenhunt's 9-20-1 ATS record in the preseason. Make that 10-20-1 ATS now. Marcus Mariota was on point against St. Louis, as were the other three Titans quarterbacks, and CB Perrish Cox took an interception 24 yards to the house.
It's a good sign for what might happen in Tennessee this year. But our concern for the moment is Friday's game (8:00 p.m. ET) at Arrowhead against the Kansas City Chiefs. Now that we're into Week 3 of the preseason, quarterback depth is less of an issue, so the Titans need to bring something else to the table. At press time, they're 5-point road dogs on our NFL odds board with a total of 43.
Life Is a Dress Rehearsal
Most coaches like to use Week 3 as a dry run for the regular season, although the second-unit players will get their reps in, too. Last year at this time, Jake Locker played into the third quarter before Zach Mettenberger took over in a 24-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons (–4 at home). Whisenhunt occasionally used three quarterbacks in Week 3 when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, so we might see Charlie Whitehurst on Friday, as well.
Given the development Marcus Mariota has made since turning pro, we're not overly concerned about how Whisenhunt will distribute the workload. However, at the other end of the field, Andy Reid will be shortening his bench on defense, thus narrowing Tennessee's depth advantage. That doesn't necessarily mean the Titans will be neutralized on offense; we just need to find other angles for our NFL picks.
Sunday Driving on a Friday Night
Here's one: The Titans are playing on a short week. Kansas City is coming off last Friday's 14-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks (+3 away), so the Chiefs will have had a full week to prepare for Tennessee – no travel time required. This will be less of a problem in Week 3 of the preseason than it will be in December, but it's still going to be a challenging turnaround for the Titans defense.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense could benefit from downsizing to the top two units. Alex Smith and Chase Daniel have been getting almost all the snaps at quarterback, but the offensive line has been a revolving door in front of them. Injuries will keep LT Eric Fisher (ankle) and RT Jeff Allen (knee) on the shelf for at least one more week. If this doesn't get solved before the regular season, Kansas City's in for a long year.
These betting angles might work in favor of the Chiefs ATS, but from our view here at the ranch, they pale in comparison to Tennessee's value as a “buy low” commodity. And the matchup on the ground favors the healthier Titans. We're back on the bandwagon, folks.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Titans +5 at 5Dimes