Jameis Winston & Marcus Mariota will be meeting in Week 1 when the Buccaneers face the Titans. With both teams starting rookies, take the UNDER here & try to make some money in this game
Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tennessee Titans (2-14, 254 PF-438 PA) head south to Tampa to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14, 324 PF-354 PA) in an NFL Kickoff Weekend and Week 1 inter-conference date at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Currently (Tuesday evening), the Buccaneers are solid 3-point favorites in sportsbooks online, Offshore and here in Las Vegas with only the vigorish on the game being different in some books. The Total in this game now ranges from 41 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) to 42 (Station Casinos). On the NFL odds board, favorite Tampa Bay has lines at -150 with Tennessee priced at +136 on the takeback (Pinnacle) while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Total has been set at 22 (-110 Over and Under, Ladbrokes) for this game while the Tennessee Titans Team Total is at 19 (Ladbrokes). The First Half Total markets haven’t really opened up yet for this or any of the other 15 NFL games this week, but Betway is posting a 21½ at this point in time. The First Half odds for this game and other Props bets will be released later this week.
The Tennessee Titans (2-2 Preseason, 85 PF-96 PA) and Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt (3-12-1 ATS) have their work cut out for them, but drafting a quality Heisman Trophy-winning QB like Marcus Mariota (Oregon) should at least give some hope for the future. But the Titans and Mariota could use some help at the Skill Position spots with upstart RB Bishop Sankey, WRs Harry Douglas (51 receptions, 556 yards, 6 TDs) and Kendall Wright (57 receptions, 715 yards, 6 TDs) and TEs Craig Stevens and the underrated Delanie Walker (63 receptions, 890 yards, 4 TDs) the team’s pegged starters. So maybe the Defense can keep the Titans in game and turn things around? After allowing 438 points in 16 games last season (-184 Point Differential) and finishing 28th in the NFL in Turnover Differential (last season with a -10 (16 Takeaways + 26 Giveaways=), it may take some time for this team to improve as a unit and it’s still hard not to say that the Titans (-11.5 ppg MoV) have one of the weakest Rosters in the league and that they dwell in a city (Nashville) with no real rich professional football tradition and one which has yet to win a Super Bowl. The NFL Team Formerly Known As The Houston Oilers (250/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) are usually tabbed to “do better than they did last season,” but that in itself speaks volumes and improving on a 2-14 SU record when you’re playing your AFC South division-mates, the Jacksonville Jaguars twice yearly and in a coming season (2015/16) with you’re playing Buccaneers (2-14), the Cleveland Browns (7-10) and the Oakland Raiders (3-13) on your schedule might actually mean a 3-13 season—and improvement—is indeed possible. Thank god for semantics, eh?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2, 70 PF-85 PA) will be seeing their own little Heisman Trophy-winning QB make his NFL Regular Season debut on Sunday when No. 1 pick in the Draft, Jameis Winston (Florida State)—who played a little bit better than Mariota in the Preseason. although both had their ups and downs—buckles up his chinstrap and sees if he can help turn this Buccaneers team around (17-47 SU L4 years). And unlike the Titans (in my mind at least), Tampa Bay (200/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) and Head Coach Lovie Smith (7-9) have a chance to improve some in the next couple of seasons, although that long-term Buccaneers success may have to come without Smith at the helm with a much stronger Roster, a little more heart and higher expectations. Plus, Tampa Bay (-133 PD) calls the NFC South home, and playing the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints all twice each season doesn’t seem to hold the same scary cache it once used to, especially with the latter hamstrung by the freakish Offseason injury to WR Kelvin Benjamin. And the Buccaneers (8/1 to win NFC South, Coral) could end up stealing this division this season if everything just happens to go right, although that could mean another division winner with an embarrassing 7-8-1 record like Carolina finished with last season. But the only way that’s gonna happen in 2015/16 Regular Season brother is if the Bucs (-8.3 MoV) and their porous Defense (410 Points Allowed last season) doesn’t improve real soon. Like some other Defensively-challenged teams in the NFL, the Bucs may have to just hope the Offense gets real good, real quick as the 277 Points this team scored last season was the lowest total in the NFC. But with Winston manning the ship like Captain Kirk did with the Starship Enterprise and some decent Skill Position players like RB Doug Martin (134 rushes, 494 yards, 2 TDs), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (21 receptions, 221 yards, 2 TDs) and dual 1,000-yard WRs Vincent Jackson (70 receptions, 1,002 yards, 2 TDs) and Mike Evans (68 receptions, 1,051 yards, 13 TDs), the Bucs at least has some essential parts to make the next step.
Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Game Expectations
Recently, the Titans have been pretty good against the number in Week 1 (6-2 ATS L8), while the Buccaneers have been pretty pathetic (2-7 ATS L9), but playing the lowly Tennessee Titans (15-33 SU L3 years) at Home in your Regular Season opener is much different animal than playing the Panthers-Jets-Panthers-Lions-Browns-Cowboys-Saints-Seahawks-Ravens in your NFL Season Opener as the Swashbucklers have done over their L9 seasons. Although some of the recent and relevant Trends strongly support the Titans (5-1 ATS L6 vs. Bucs) here, the thought is that Tampa Bay has gotten a little better while Tennessee (4-16-2 ATS L22 on Grass) has dropped off some. The last time these two met, the Titans—who are a woeful 15-33-4 ATS in their L53 games overall (31.2 %)—won 23-17 in 2011 at Home in Nashville as the game went Under the posted Total of 43 while in the last meeting here in South Florida back in the 2007/08 season, Tampa Bay won 13-10 in a game that went well Under the Total of 37. This one should also fall under the Total—which moved down a point from a marketplace high of 42½ Monday to 41½ tonight (Tuesday) here in Sin City at the MGM Mirage—and a couple of Trends support this (Buccaneers 9-1 Under L10, Buccaneers 13-3 Under L16 on Grass). This game actually could be interesting, boring and close all at the same time but the feel is the Bucs are a better team with some much better receiving weapons and make for a solid Week 1 NFL Pick.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Buccaneers 22 Titans 16
NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Under 42 (CG Technology)