Six weeks ago, the Tennessee Titans handed the New York Jets their first of their two season wins … it seems to have gotten their attention. The defeat dropped the Titans to a won/loss record of 2-2 … they haven’t lost since.
Their five game winning streak includes victories over some of the best teams in the league, including the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Last week, they played without runningback Derrick Henry and still won on the road against the talented Rams.
Is Tennessee unbeatable?
We will know more after this Sunday’s game when they host the New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton’s Saints come into action this week a game behind the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the competitive NFC South Division race. Last week, at home, the Saints were upended by the Atlanta Falcons, who pulled to within one game of New Orleans with the road victory.
What do these two teams have going for them given both come into play this week with winning records?
The Titans victories are keyed by their offensive prowess. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who found a home after seven seasons in which he mostly struggled with the Miami Dolphins, has led an attack that has scored 255 points, fourth best in the league. The offense was triggered by last year’s rushing leader, Derrick Henry, but after making major contributions to the Titans success over the first half of the season, he was sidelined last week with an injury that will keep him out of action for multiple weeks.
Still, even without Henry, the Ttians surprised the Rams in Los Angeles.
Often, a team that is missing a key player will have a motivational boost to compensate for his absence. Two of the best teams in the league got that done last week. In addition to the Titans winning during Week Nine action as a touchdown underdog at SoFi Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals kicked off as a 5½ point underdog against the San Francisco 49ers and dominated the contest without Kyler Murray enroute to a 14 point victory.
Just as common as team’s coming up with a big effort in the first week without a star player, they have a let down after a win in the second game missing a key component of their offense. The reason for this is simple, the team isn’t sure they can win without a missing big contributor in their first game and that motivates the entire team to compensate for their loss. Once they know they can win after suffering a key injury, they no longer have the motivational edge and are still without the key player.
Teams that win with a backup and then have their starter return, also often endure a motivational trap. The Cardinals may have won last week without Murray, but now that he is back they will be challenged to win again by double-digits while the point spread has them favored by 10½ points over the Carolina Panthers.
An even better spot is going against the Titans after their upset road win now that they are favored over a Saints team and still without their leading ground gainer.
The Titans offense is ranked high, but in this game the better defense belongs to New Orleans. The Saints have allowed the third fewest points in the league.
Better defense, getting points in a perfect motivational spot makes Sunday all Saints day.
Qoxhi Picks: New Orleans Saints (+3) over Tennessee Titans