NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Fly Over
by Dennis Ranahan

Three weeks ago, the Tennessee Titans beat the New England Patriots at Nissan Stadium in a game that followed a road win over the Dallas Cowboys. Those two victories vaulted first-year head coach Mike Vrabel’s squad into the thick of the race for a playoff spot.

Then, the Titans took to the road and came up short in losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans by lopsided scores, which has put their postseason hopes on life support.

But, don’t you know, they are really happy to be back in Nashville for today’s game and playing the New York Jets, a team that comes to the Music City on a five game losing streak. Wouldn’t you think that a team trying to snap a losing run would benefit from playing a weak team?

Think again.

One of the worst motivational factors to work against a team with average talent is when they are not playing well themselves but think a weak opponent is an antidote for their losing. It isn’t. Teams don’t usually snap losing streaks without a motivational boost, something to overcome. When a win seems to be handed to them by their opponent before a game starts, they don’t have the juices necessary to clean up their own play. And, even on the few occasions when their superior talent is enough to eke out a win, it seldom is by a margin wide enough to cover a bloated point spread.

A bloated line for a team on a losing streak is double jeopardy.

Prior to Vrabel being named head coach of the Titans last January, Tennessee was under the direction of Mike Mularkey, who had replaced Ken Whisenhunt in the eighth week of the 2015 season. In his two plus years at the helm of the Titans, Mularkey compiled a 21-22 won/loss record, but did guide Tennessee to the playoffs in 2017 and a postseason opening win against the Chiefs in Kansas City.

How does a team that hadn’t been to the playoffs in nine years replace the coach that led them to the playoffs and a postseason win?

You’ll have to ask Titans management … I don’t have an answer.

Although, I do know that Tennessee has thought they were better than their record since drafting Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the 2015 draft. They also decided that even though Mularkey cracked the playoff field for them last year, Vrabel was a better choice to take them all the way to the Super Bowl.

In his first season, he has guided the Titans to a few impressive wins, including the home triumph over the Patriots three weeks ago. But, Tennessee has proven once again this year, they are not as good on the field as their press clippings suggest.

Mariota is worthy of being a franchise quarterback, and they seem to have a lot of the pieces in place to join the NFL elite. But, replacing a coach that got them to the playoffs because they think they can do better, was a risky move and so far has fallen short once again of their expectations.

This week, off back-to-back losses, the prospects for the Titans is through the roof in the eyes of the public. While Tennessee is not the most bet team in volume this week, their opponent, the Jets, are the least wagered team on the Week 13 card. The point spread on this game opened with the Titans favored by ten points, and even while nearly all the wagers on this game are backing the Titans, the line during the week has been shaved to as few as 7½ points.

The public continues to bang on the Titans, thinking they are better than they are and that the Jets are no match, which has driven the spread back to near where it opened.

Get all the points you can, and then expect a Jets fly over.

Qoxhi Picks: New York Jets (+9½) over Tennessee Titans