NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Surprise
by Dennis Ranahan

How good are the Tennessee Titans?

Under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans have won three games in a row to move into the top spot in the highly competitive AFC South Division race. They currently are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 3 and 1 mark, but own the early tiebreaker in their division race with a win two weeks ago over the Jaguars on the road.

Tennessee is good enough to pin the only loss the Jaguars have suffered all season and doing it on Jacksonville’s home field. That leads many to believe the Titans are one of the best teams in the AFC.

How bad are the Buffalo Bills?

The Bills have had only one bright spot during their first four weeks of action. In their opener, they got creamed by the Baltimore Ravens, 47-3, a loss that prompted head coach Sean McDermott to replace quarterback Nathan Peterman with rookie Josh Allen. In his first start, Allen got the Bills 20 points, but lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 31-20.

Then an unexpected road win over the highly regarded Minnesota Vikings. As a 16½ point underdog, the Bills shocked Minnesota in front of their home fans, 27-6. That surprise victory had the bettors considering Buffalo worthy competition for the Green Bay Packers last week with a generous nine point spread at Lambeau Field. More than half the wagers on that game took the points with the Bills.

Turns out, it appears, the win over Minnesota was an anomaly, as Buffalo went back in the tank and got shutout by the Packers, 22-0.

Okay, let’s answer both questions. How good are the Titans and how bad are the Bills?

The Titans are good enough to win as underdogs. On opening day, they were a pick ‘em against the Miami Dolphins, and lost on the road, 27-20. Then as a home underdog against the Houston Texans they got their first win. In Jacksonville, they were meeting a Jaguars team that was undefeated and favored by 10 points, and got the upset win. Last week, at home and as an underdog to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Titans got another close win, 26-23, against a Philadelphia team that had narrowly beat the Indianapolis Colts the week before.

How good are the Titans … not as good as their record.

The Bills were beaten on the road in their opener against a Baltimore team that leads the AFC North and last week downed the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. In second week action, they met a talented Chargers squad that was smarting off a home opening loss to the still undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Then, after their huge win over Minnesota, the Bills took another dive when they were suddenly overrated against a Packers team who were coming off a lopsided road loss the week before to the Washington Redskins.

In other words, the Bills defeats have been against teams with good reasons to rebound from prior week losses.

How bad are the Bills, not as bad as their record.

That brings us to this week, when a team riding a three game winning streak and confident of a win over the Bills visits Buffalo. But, before you mark an automatic “W” next to the Titans, know this; the Titans wins have all come when they have had both the points on the spread and motivation in the game. This Sunday, the Bills get the points and have the motivation for their contest against the Titans.

Yep, Tennessee has surprised many with their rise to the top of the AFC South Division race with three straight victories … now they are in store for another surprise, a loss to the underrated Bills.

Qoxhi Picks: Buffalo Bills (+5½) over Tennessee Titans