NFL Picks: Lock Falcons -3 to Get Back on Track vs. Titans

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 22, 2015 5:32 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 5:32 PM UTC

The Atlanta Falcons are getting the most action for Sunday's game with the Tennessee Titans, but a closer look suggests the Titans may be the sharp NFL pick after all.

Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 21: 21-15 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 14-23 Total

Is anyone paying attention to the Tennessee Titans? They've got a serious quarterback problem on their hands this week: Marcus Mariota has a sprained knee and might not play Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) against the visiting Atlanta Falcons. If Mariota can't play, Zach Mettenberger is next in line to start. It's kind of important.

Yet this game remains uncircled on our NFL odds board. Most of the early action has been on the Falcons, moving them from –3.5 at the open to –4.5 at press time. It appears we've written off Mariota for this week – but what if he plays? That non-zero chance might already make the Titans worth putting in our Week 7 NFL picks. And while our expanded consensus reports at press time show 62 percent of the action landing on the Falcons, the average bet on Tennessee is $84 to Atlanta's $53. Contrarians are buying low on the Titans.


Yes, We Did Say “Titans”
The logic is sound enough. In general, the betting public over-reacts to wins and losses, and the Tennessee Titans (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) have racked up more than their fair share of losses this year. Literally: Football Outsiders has Tennessee playing well enough to earn 2.6 Estimated Wins through five games. The Falcons (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS), on the other hand, only merit 3.1 Estimated Wins after six games. A couple of bounces here and there have made all the difference.

Mariota is a big part of Tennessee's success. The offense hasn't been performing well as a whole (No. 27 in efficiency), but Mariota was doing splendidly – at least until last week's 38-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins (+2.5 away), who were coming off the bye week and enjoying their first taste of not being coached by Joe Philbin. So we should just give Marcus Mariota and the Titans a mulligan, right?


New Wave Schwenke
Dang it, there goes another plan out the window. Mariota isn't the only injury Tennessee has to worry about this week: center Brian Schwenke was put on injured reserve Tuesday after dislocating his left ankle in the Dolphins game. The Titans have signed San Francisco 49ers cast-off Joe Looney to fill the roster spot, although rookie Andy Gallik will reportedly start at center against the Falcons.

Maybe this isn't so bad for the Titans. Schwenke didn't exactly impress as a sophomore last year; Gallick may be a rookie, but he did start for four years at Boston College, and has played some guard for Tennessee in a back-up role. He's not so bad. However, it's still going to be a challenge for Gallick in his first pro start, and it'll probably be with Mettenberger behind him. Welcome to the NFL.

NFL Picks: Take the Falcons –3 (+100) at Bovada

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