It would be difficult to conclude what team is the division leader and what team is in third place based on the point spread and public wagering on tonight’s game between the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers.
For the record, the Titans lead the AFC South Division while the 49ers trail both the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
Tonight’s game is played in the Titans home stadium, but the 49ers are favored by three points or more on a short work week.
Because San Francisco is making a valiant effort to earn a playoff spot after an early season slump that saw them lose four straight games including contests on both sides of their bye week. History shows no team in the National Football League has won a Super Bowl in a season in which they lost both the game before and after their bye week.
All that aside, the 49ers problems were complicated by a number of injuries to key players including a pair of key offensive contributors, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tightend George Kittle. Both are difference makers and both are ready to go in Music City tonight.
The resurgent Niners run smack into a Titans team that has struggled in recent weeks, pretty much ever since they lost their leading rusher, Derrick Henry. Last week, in Pittsburgh, Tennessee had 10 more first downs, more yards rushing, more yards passing and gained 150 more overall yards than the homesteading Steelers … and lost.
The trouble for the Titans could be traced to four turnovers that led to the Steelers taking a 19-13 lead that was protected when a pass from Ryan Tannehill to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was stopped inches short of a first down at the 16-yard line in the final seconds of Sunday’s loss.
Now, the Steelers are not as good as the 49ers, and were in a great motivational spot last week when they hosted the Titans. Right now, Tennessee is not good enough to overcome a bad spot … but they are still talented enough to take advantage of a good one.
Tonight is a good one for the home team.
I do my own stats every Monday, and that exercise allows me to follow how teams do when gaining more yards and this is what I have noticed. A team in a good motivational spot doesn’t need to gain more yards than their opponent to win.
Because a motivated team is more consistently on their toes which leads to other ways to take advantage of an opponent. Like turnovers. A motivated team is quicker to the ball, more likely to get a blocked punt or kick return.
The Titans were victims of these factors last week, but now, at home, are in line to benefit in much the same way the Steelers got a victory last week without anything more than the edge provided by a sweet motivational spot.
Qoxhi Picks: Tennessee Titans (+3½) over San Francisco 49ers