Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Chargers
When and Where: Sunday, Oct. 21, Wembley Stadium, London, England, 9:30 a.m. EDT.
Coming off one of their worst offensive performances since moving to Tennessee more than two decades ago, the Titans hope a transatlantic trip will jump-start their offense Sunday when they face the surging Los Angeles Chargers at Wembley Stadium in London.
The Titans (3-3) fell into a tie atop the AFC South after a humbling 21-0 loss to Baltimore on Sunday in which they allowed 11 sacks and had just 106 yards — their second-lowest total since moving from Houston in 1997.
Los Angeles (4-2), meanwhile, is looking for a fourth straight victory and made a successful stopover in Cleveland last Sunday with a 38-14 romp as Melvin Gordon III rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
Titans look for answers to spark offense
There were no positives to be had versus the Ravens as the Titans allowed more sacks than Marcus Mariota had completions (10). The 11 sacks allowed were one short of the franchise record set in 1985 while the club was in Houston.
Tennessee finished with seven first downs and went 1 for 10 on third down, having possession for barely more than 22 minutes while failing to get inside the Baltimore 35-yard line.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 15, 2018
“Sometimes the ball has to get out, and we have to block better,” first-year coach Mike Vrabel said when asked if any one part of the offense should shoulder the blame more at his Monday news conference. “It’s a lot of both. There’s times where we have to do a better job of stepping up, and there’s times where we have to do a better job of blocking and giving the quarterback a chance. It all goes hand in hand.”
It was the third time already this season the Titans failed to score a touchdown, adding to the pressure on first-year offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Tennessee ranks 30th in passing offense (164.2 yards per game) and total offense (262.7), and the Titans have failed to reach 250 yards in three of their games.
— Tennessee Titans (@TitansNation) October 15, 2018
While last Sunday’s loss skews the statistic, Mariota has been sacked 17 times already after being dropped 27 times in 15 games last season when he led Tennessee to the divisional round of the playoffs. Also, a concern is his two passing touchdowns thus far, tying him for last with rookies Josh Allen and Josh Rosen among current starting QBs.
Defensively, the Titans failed to help themselves by allowing the Ravens to convert 12 of 17 on third down after entering the game holding opponents to a 33.3 percent success rate (21 for 63). Both Buffalo and Baltimore committed to pounding the ball against Tennessee’s defense, racking up 78 rushing attempts to earn 267 yards.
That does not bode well in facing a Chargers team coming off a season-best 246-yard rushing effort. Los Angeles is averaging 137.3 yards on the ground and 412.5 overall.
This is the first time in franchise history the Titans are playing a regular-season game outside the United States. Mariota lost his only start against the Chargers, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions in a 43-35 defeat in 2016.
Chargers clicking on all cylinders ahead with London calling
While the Chargers are averaging 29.2 points thus far, their defense has delivered the last two games in holding the Oakland Raiders and Browns to a combined 24 points. Los Angeles matched a season high with five sacks — Corey Liuget and Damion Square each had 1.5 sacks — and intercepted Browns rookie Baker Mayfield twice, raising its season total to eight INTs.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 14, 2018
This strong start is a direct contrast to Anthony Lynn’s first season running the Chargers, who opened 2017 with four losses before eventually finishing 9-7. Los Angeles has a chance to be 5-2 for the first time since 2014, and with the bye week looming after this game, there is plenty of motivation to complete this two-game road sweep.
“I will be as prepared as ever for this Titans game,” quarterback Philip Rivers told the club’s official website. “I’m always prepared every week, but there will be a lot of time to prepare because I won’t be going home in the evenings. There will be a lot of good team bonding…. I think it will be good for us. We’re already a pretty close team, but I still think it will be good for us.”
Rivers threw for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns — both to Tyrell Williams — versus the Browns and carries a streak of seven multi-touchdown pass games dating back to Week 17 of last season. The 15-year veteran is third in the league with 15 scoring tosses and second with a 115.1 passer rating.
All three of Williams catches were for 25 or more yards as he finished with a season-high 118 yards. He has made the most of limited times Rivers has thrown his way, averaging 19.4 yards on 16 receptions while being targeted just 23 times.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 14, 2018
Gordon is fourth in the NFL with 745 total scrimmage yards after his season-high 132 rushing yards and has topped 100 total yards in the last three games.
The Chargers are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games vs. AFC teams.
- 9-0-1 ATS in their last 10 games vs. the Titans.
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games as favorites between 3.5 and 10 points.
- The under is 11-4 in their last 15 games vs. AFC teams.
- The under is 9-3 in their last 12 games following a straight up win by more than 14 points.
- The under is 13-5 in their last 18 games after scoring 30 or more points in the previous game.
The Titans are:
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following a double-digit loss at home.
- 17-42-4 ATS in their last 63 games vs. AFC teams.
- The underdog is 0-3-1 ATS in the last four games between the teams.
- The under is 4-0 in their last four games vs. AFC teams.
- The under is 4-1 in their last five games following a straight up loss by more than 14 points.
- The under is 4-1 in their last five games.
Updated on Oct 20 at 9:15pm EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
This one looks like it has sharp money written all over it as the line has come down from LA -7 to LA -6.5, despite the fact that 71% of the bets are on the Bolts. Maybe the Sharps aren’t impressed by LA’s last three-game win streak which was against San Fran, Oakland, and Cleveland. They could also be looking for Mariota to bounce back from a horrible showing against the Ravens. We shall see.
Injury / Weather Report
Temps should be in the 60’s with clear skies. No weather issues in this one.
Tennessee’s Injury Report:
OG Quinton Spain is questionable. No other impact injuries for the Titans.
Los Angeles’ Injury Report:
Kicker Caleb Sturgis is out for this one, but we note that Michael Badgley hit his lone FG attempt last week and all five extra points. Center Mike Pouncey is questionable as is NT Damion Square (2 sacks). Pouncey would be a big loss to that OL.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
In addition to these teams trending in opposite directions, Rivers has dominated the Titans in head-to-head matchups. He has a lifetime record of 6-1, throwing for 1,775 yards and 13 TDs against only four interceptions and is a perfect 6-0 when passing for 200 yards or more.
Los Angeles is also the only team in the NFL to have recorded at least three offensive touchdowns in all six games this season, which is a credit to offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The Chargers are third in the NFL with 35 plays of 20 or more yards, including a league-high eight on the ground. As long as they establish Gordon early — the Titans rank 27th in runs of 10 or more yards allowed with 22 — the balance that has made them successful should continue.
While Tennessee should not have offensive problems as severe as it did last week against Baltimore, LaFleur and Mariota need to get this offense off the ground quickly. Both Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are averaging less than 3.4 yards per carry, and it does not help matters Mariota is the third-leading rusher on the team.
Look for the Chargers to steal a scheme from the Ravens playbook and make sure defensive ends Square, and Melvin Ingram stay in their lanes to keep Mariota in the pocket and force him to try and beat them with his arm. In all likelihood, the Titans will come up short and the Chargers should cruise into the bye on a four-game winning streak.
Prediction: Pick: Chargers -6.5 (-115)
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a pick expecting the Titans offense to continue to struggle while the Chargers hum along as they have all season. Tennessee ranks 28th in third-down conversions at 34.1 percent, and if Los Angeles can force the Titans into passing situations on third and long, the Chargers can continue to force turnovers.
There is little reason to believe a Titans offense that has accounted for just six touchdowns on the season is going to suddenly rouse itself against a Chargers defense that has definitely raised its play in winning the last two games during this three-game win streak.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 45.5 points (-110)
Full-Game Prop Bet
While this combo does not offer a great return, it is the most likely outcome of the options of players who can score a touchdown for the Chargers as opposed to trying to figure out who among Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will be on the receiving end of a Rivers touchdown pass.
With Tennessee’s run defense suspect to being worn down because of its struggling offense, taking Gordon to find the end zone as the Chargers go onto victory is a strong and safe play.
Prediction: Gordon TD + Chargers win (-125)
Half-Time Side Pick
The Chargers have put up 55 points in the first half during their three-game winning streak, and they may not even need to reach that average of 18.3 points to cover the 3.5 points they are giving in this case. Tennessee has not scored a first-half touchdown in its last four games, and while the Titans could end this drought, the hedge is that they will not score enough to prevent the Chargers from covering through two quarters.
Prediction: Pick: Chargers -3.5 (-115)
Half-Time Total Bet
This will be a close one, especially if the Titans solve their offensive woes for a scoring drive or two in London. Los Angeles’ first-half scoring efficiency was established previously, and the expectation is the teams will come up just short. Also of note is all six games for the Titans have had 21 or fewer first-half points.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 22.5 points (-115)
Half-Time Prop Prediction
Rivers has thrown 10 of his 15 touchdown passes in the first half, and has been ruthlessly efficient in the second quarter — the Chargers have scored 32 points in the final two minutes of the first half this season. Los Angeles is clicking offensively, and that should continue against the Titans in this game.
Prediction: Pick: Chargers OVER 13.5 points (Even)