Panthers vs. Titans: How Much Mularkey Can Mariota Take?

Jason Lake

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 9:09 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 9:09 PM UTC

Vapor lock prevented the Carolina Panthers from covering their preseason opener. Can they beat the football odds this Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans?

Carolina Panthers vs Tennessee Titans
Every once in a while, Cam Newton makes one of those mistakes. We all do, of course, but Newton has a reputation to uphold. Friday's preseason opener between the Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens was classic Cam: He led the Panthers on a 68-yard drive for a field goal in his only series, then he erased what would have been an A.J. Klein 95-yard INT return by stepping on the field during the play. Jeez Laweez.

Maybe I'm just cranky because we had the Panthers here at the home office, and they lost 22-19 as 1-point road faves on the closing line. Carolina did end up scoring a TD after Klein's interception, so no harm, no foul. But these are the kind of mistakes that prevent Newton from being all that he can be, and that may be enough to make us fade the Panthers for Saturday's game (3:00 p.m. ET) in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. Carolina is a 1-point road dog on the NFL odds board as we go to press; the early consensus figures are 50/50 for who'll get the cover.


That's Bunkum, Sir
It's not like the Panthers have been preseason killers. Here are the lifetime preseason records for Saturday's head coaches:

Ron Rivera, Panthers: 11-10 ATS, OVER 11-10
Mike Mularkey, Titans: 8-5 ATS, UNDER 6-5-1

Not much there for either side, but at least Mularkey has been profitable against the spread – in the preseason. His track record as a head coach is spotty at best; Mularkey lasted just two years with the Buffalo Bills in 2004-05, and one awful season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012, before taking over from Ken Whisenhunt last year on an interim basis in Week 8. It's very interesting that he's been given the job full-time.

At the very least, Mularkey has earned respect as an offensive coordinator and a tight ends coach – he was a tight end for nine years in the NFL after playing quarterback in high school. Mularkey's plan for 2016 is to keep things simple for Mariota and protect him from the beating he took last year operating out of the spread. Ground and pound will be the mantra this season. Tennessee even traded WR Dorial Green-Beckham to the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday for OL Dennis Kelly. Interesting.

Anyway, here are the QB depth charts for both teams as per Rotoworld:

Panthers: Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb
Titans: Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney

Both clubs have veteran depth at the most important position on the field. We're still scouring the interwebs for some indication of how the playing time will be doled out Saturday, but it's not a big concern in this matchup. We're going with Titans for our NFL picks, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

Free NFL Pick: Titans –1 –106
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle
Preseason Record: 1-2 ATS, 1-0 Totals

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3010763, "sportsbooksIds":[238,93,19,92,1096], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]

comment here