Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#271 Tennessee Titans 40 vs.
#272 Denver Broncos -1
Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 4:25pm EDT
Sports Authority Field, Denver
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#271 Tennessee
#272 Denver
2-3
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This article covers a past game!

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When and where: October 13, 2019, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO, 4:25 PM ET

An ugly home loss to the Buffalo Bills should have the Jekyll-and-Hyde Tennessee Titans seething for a bounce-back win when heading to Mile High on Sunday to take on the Denver Broncos. The Titans’ 14-7 loss to the Bills came on cue after an impressive road win over the Atlanta Falcons. It’s no surprise considering their lukewarm nature. Winning big games hasn’t been a problem for the Titans as much as winning them consistently.

Meanwhile, the Broncos should come into this game feeling a little surge of momentum after knocking off the Los Angeles Chargers for their first win of the season. They’re a tough team to beat when the defense is playing in unison and coming up with takeaways. The unit forced two interceptions and one fumble for a 20-13 win over the Chargers.

Not so super Mariota

Quarterback Marcus Mariota clearly isn’t the long-term franchise answer for the Titans. That’s a statement many Titans fans would vehemently disagree with since Mariota is so beloved throughout the community. But being a great guy doesn’t win football games.

I’m not going to heap all of the recent struggles on his shoulders considering how bad the offensive line has held up in recent weeks. Mariota has hit the dirt for a league-high 22 sacks from opposing defenses. He isn’t getting the adequate protection he needs to drop back and pass, and fans are also getting robbed of the best possible version of running back Derrick Henry with those struggles.

Perhaps an even bigger concern is the absence of defensive end Cameron Wake at practice on Wednesday. The veteran pass rusher is currently tied for second-most sacks on the team (2.5), and he is officially listed as questionable on the injury report. Linebacker Sharif Finch also popped up on the injury report after missing practice as well. He left last Sunday’s game against the Bills early with a shoulder injury.

However, the Titans defense should have an easier time keying in on Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, who won’t be on the move nearly as much as Josh Allen was for the Bills. The Broncos’ receiving corps is also a bit banged up heading into the game.

If the Titans have an advantage, it's that defensive coordinator Dean Pees' previous stint was in Baltimore, so he has some familiarity of his strengths and weaknesses. Yet, Pees wants his defense to sharpen up some things and well, there is little margin for error.

“Number one, we just can’t give up the one big play a game that we seem to be giving up. We’ll play well… then last week we give up a reverse… it’s not so much the desperation at the end that bothers me sometimes,” Pees said.

“We’re trying to make a play at the end, and sometimes it’s feast or famine when you’re really trying to get somebody stopped at the end. But we gave up a run in the Colts game, we gave up a reverse last week, we gave up a run in the Jacksonville game. We’ve just got to eliminate that big play… and we’ve just got to play better in the red zone.”

Yet, success for the Titans will be dependent on protecting Mariota from former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. If they can keep Mariota upright, he’ll have a shot at putting up points on Denver’s top-10 defense.

Less Joe is good for the Broncos

Once upon a time, Joe Flacco was considering a burgeoning elite quarterback. Sure, there were times when he missed open receivers and made terrible decisions in the pocket, but those moments were cloaked by the many great throws he made in high-pressure situations. Joe Cool might still exist somewhere under the exterior of the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback, but Joe Elite has sailed off into the sunset.

Heading into Sunday’s game against a tough Titans’ defensive front, the Broncos have to remain committed to running the football with the combination of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. It needs to be a run-first team with Flacco’s arm serving only as a complimentary option. The veteran quarterback has thrown at least one interception in each of his last four games. For a team lacking in offensive explosiveness, they can’t afford to have careless turnovers kill potential scoring drives.

The loss of Bradley Chubb on the defensive side of the ball has been a huge hit to the unit’s effectiveness in getting after the quarterback. They currently rank as the second-worst team in the league in sacks per game, which is a big problem when facing the Mariota-led Titans. Mariota has shown the ability to light up the scoreboard if he’s given time in the pocket. It could be a long night for the Broncos if they aren’t able to at least make him see ghosts.

It will be an even longer night for Flacco if receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton are hampered in any way. Both have been limited at practice this week with injuries.

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The Broncos are already buried in an AFC West division that has the Kansas City Chiefs and the overachieving Oakland Raiders. This isn’t the vaunted defense that was capable of carrying the franchise in past years, and the offense has remained an absolute mess since legendary quarterback Peyton Manning retired.

The Titans are strong enough up front to slow down the Lindsay and Freeman Show while forcing Flacco to drop back and give up a turnover or two. Those mistakes alone will be enough for Mariota to capitalize on easy points. Perhaps a greater concern, however, is the inability of the Broncos to generate a consistent pass rush.

If you’re telling me Mariota is going to have time to throw, I like his chances greatly in this match-up. The offensive line will key in on stopping Miller from wrecking the game without having to be concerned about Chubb on the other side. Meanwhile, Henry should be able to feast on rushing yards against a Denver defensive front giving up 126.4 yards on the ground per game.

I’m taking the Titans and the points on Sunday.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans (+2)

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The Broncos defense has its fair share of problems on the defensive front, but they generally don’t give up many points. Opposing offenses are only averaging 21.2 points per game against them, which ranks 10th in the league. So Mariota and company will have to scratch and claw for every point they put on the board. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos’ sluggish offense is only averaging 18 points per game, meaning there won’t be much scoring on Sunday. Give me the under betting total here.

Prediction: Under (40.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.