NFL Sunday Picks: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski is projected to finish the season with over 1,200 receiving yards.
Rob Gronkowski is projected to finish the season with over 1,200 receiving yards.

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Spread: NE -14.5
Total: 47

Betting odds c/o Bovada

The Tennessee Titans may be 3-10 on the year and two-touchdown underdogs, but this game still could be an interesting display of past and present. With Tom Brady getting up there in age, many eyes will be tuning in to see Titans stud rookie Marcus Mariota (also, Brady is listed as questionable for this game with an illness).

So, while Tennessee may be a long shot to win this game (just 10.5 percent of ESPN voters picking them to win), it should still be an interesting game on a per-player basis, whether Brady suits up or not, at that.

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The Titans have lost four of its last five. On opening day, in the dismantling of the Bucs, the Titans tallied up 42 points while surrendering just 14, a mark far better than the 35 it allowed to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, or even the 28 it allowed to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.

Mariota threw four TD passes in the stomping, and he was 13 of 15 on passing for 209 total passing yards. The Titans are hoping for a return to that after falling to the Jets 30-8 last week.  Really, Titans fans had the bar set pretty high after that Week 1 win, but even with just three wins the team is noticeably better than last season.

The Titans did get its third win 42-39 over Jacksonville two weeks ago, and its offense has not always been the problem. Defensively the Titans have allowed 30 points per game over the past three contests, and that will not be much improved against one of the league’s best offenses in New England.

Mariota still has impressed.

The rookie from Oregon has thrown 227 of 364 (62.4 percent) on the season with 19 TD passes and 10 INTs. Disturbingly, he has been sacked 35 times for 226 lost yards, but a lot of that falls on the Titans’ mediocre OL. Mariota is lightning quick, but even he cannot avoid each and every rush. He has rushed for 252 yards on the season, though, with a stellar 7.4 yards per carry average.

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No.1 back Antonio Andrews has not been that good though, with just 3.7 yards per carry on 127 attempts this season. The Titans have just eight rushing TDs on the season and Mariota has accounted for two of those. Andrews has just three on the season while No. 2 back Dexter McCluster has a pair of TDs and a 4.5 yard per carry average, but McCluster is out for the season with a wrist injury.

The New England Patriots got back on track after having lost two straight by knocking off the Houston Texans 27-6 last week to improve to 11-2 on the season. Tom Brady threw 22 of 30 for 226 yards with two TDs, and the Pats got 116 rushing yards in the game, as well. Brady’s top target was TE Rob Gronkowski, who came up with 87 yards on just four receptions, also scoring one of the two receiving touchdowns. WR Danny Amendola led the team in receptions with six, and had 46 yards on those catches.

Gronkowski is listed as probable for the game, though if he misses it is not injury related. He has already caught for over 1000 yards on the season and has caught 61 of 96 targeted passes. Brady has thrown at a 64.2 percent clip with 33 TDs and just six INTs (1.1 percent). He has been sacked 32 times on the season, and his passer rating is still 103.6.

RB LeGarrette Blount has 703 yards on 165 attempts and has scored all four of the Pats’ rushing TDs. Gronkowski leads the team in total TDs with 10 and he has also accounted for 43 first downs this season. Expect the Pats loaded lineup to dispose of the Titans rather easily as NFL oddsmakers project, but the real fun should be getting a look at Mariota and what he can become. After all, that is about all that is left for Titans fans at this point.

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