NFL Picks: Titans vs. Broncos Betting the Spread

Darin Zank

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 4:32 PM GMT

The Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans are playing for different things Sunday at Mile High Stadium, but at least they're both playing for something. Find out where we've decided to place our money!

That eliminates one possible unknown, as far as handicapping this game is concerned.

Denver is going to make the playoffs; its goal right now is to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Broncos can't afford a slip-up, not as long as New England keeps winning.

Tennessee, on the other hand, is fighting for its playoff life; at 5-7 the Titans are a game back of 6-6 Baltimore, which owns the second AFC wild-card spot at the moment. Several other teams are also involved, but Tennessee has to take care of its own business at hand, and eight losses probably won't make it.

Denver is favored by almost two touchdowns over the Titans; is that too much? Or not enough?

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Titans-Broncos Betting Line Update

Most books we consulted opened Denver at -12.5 or -13, then quickly dropped that number to as low as -11. But as of Wednesday AM most shops had also bumped the Broncos back to at least -12.  

For those out there who really like to gamble Tennessee can be gotten at upwards of +500 on the moneyline at various shops to win this game straight-up.

Titans-Broncos By the Numbers

Tennessee's defense ranks ninth overall and seventh vs. the pass. Now, they haven't gone against an attack like Denver's, but that's still pretty good.

Meanwhile, the Broncos rank 27th in total defense, 29th vs. the pass. Now, those numbers are a bit skewed because Denver has played with leads most of the season, but still, it might be cause for some concern. 

The Weather

It's still five days away, and predicting the weather in Denver that far out can be a crap-shoot. But apparently it's going to be cold in Colorado Sunday, temps in the teens, a chance of some snow showers, but with light winds.

Does that affect our NFL picks on this game? We've heard Manning isn't as good in cold weather. But hell, who is? He does tend to throw balls that wobble, and we've seen him have balls slip right out of his hands. We won't be surprised if Manning turns the ball over once or twice Sunday.

On the other side of the quarterback coin Tennessee's Ryan Fitzpatrick just threw three interceptions in a dome against the Colts. So he's capable of turning it over regardless of the conditions.

But both teams rank in the top half of the league in running the ball, so we're having a hard time discerning any substantial advantage Sunday's weather may provide to either team.  

Titans-Broncos Free Pick

In handicapping Denver games since Manning arrived we've assumed the way to beat the Broncos is to run the ball, keep it from Manning, use drives to eat the clock, shorten the game, and do whatever you can to stop them on defense. Well, Denver has lost just twice this season; in the first defeat, at Indy, the Colts ran the ball 31 times and held it for almost 32 minutes. In the second, at New England, the Patriots fell behind 24-0 at the half before roaring back to win; Tom Brady threw the ball 50 times that night.

Now, can Tennessee do either Sunday afternoon? Are the Titans capable of running the ball 30-35 times for 150 yards, dominating the clock in the process? Or are they capable of throwing the ball 50 times and putting up 35 points to win a shootout?

Our guess is Denver is going to win the game. And since adding Manning the Broncos are 8-0 SU and 5-2-1 ATS when favored by double-digits, averaging 36 points per game in those contests.

But a couple of things sway us toward the Titans; one, Denver is coming off an emotional divisional victory at Kansas City – might the Broncos go through a bit of an emotional letdown Sunday? And second, frankly, we think the NFL odds are slightly inflated. If this game were being played on a neutral field, Denver might be favored by around eight or nine points; if it were being played in Nashville, six points.

So we'll go with Tennessee at the +13 points offered at Bovada.

NFL Pick: Tennesse +13