Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook Additionally, I’ll hone in on at least one player or game prop each week that I feel has profit potential at one of those three sportsbooks.
All betting takes will be classified as either a “lean” or a “pick”. A lean is a wager that we have a certain degree of certainty in. However, it’s one that still falls somewhere short of a high-confidence selection. A pick carries an additional degree of confidence based on a variety of factors. These include relevant injuries; past track record of each team in those bet types and under the specific conditions that apply; and recent performances of each team leading up to the game.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
The Titans are solid but not massive moneyline favorites on the road. Tennessee does have numbers on its side in this matchup recently. The Titans are 6-2 versus the Jaguars thus far in the Marcus Mariota era (2015-present). They’ve also won the last two meetings in Jacksonville. While they only squeezed by with a narrow three-point win in last season’s clash at TIAA Bank Field, they prevailed by three touchdowns in the 2017 contest there.
The Jaguars draw the slightly shorter straw in terms of the abbreviated week in this case. They had to travel back from Houston on Sunday evening after dropping a difficult 13-12 decision to the Texans in Week 2. Tennessee had the advantage of already being home for their Week 2 contest. Not that it equated to an actual edge on the field — the Titans suffered their own close loss at the hands of the visiting Colts by a 19-17 margin.
It could very well be argued that Jacksonville scored more of the “moral victory” in defeat when comparing the two teams’ Week 2 performances. The Jags are helmed by rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew at the moment thanks to Nick Foles’ collarbone injury. Minshew acquitted himself while hitting the road for the first time in his nascent career. Facing a tough Texans defense, he completed 23 of 33 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown while adding 56 rushing yards. He even authored a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives to bring Jacksonville within a point. Had coach Doug Marrone not opted to go for two (the attempt failed), Minshew may have been leading at least one drive in overtime with a chance to pull out the win.
In turn, the Titans bore little resemblance to the team that had turned it up several notches during the second half against the Browns in Week 1. Tennessee’s passing game went through one of its all-too-familiar downturns and couldn’t find a rhythm. Mariota steered clear of interceptions for the second straight game to open the season but averaged a pedestrian 5.5 yards per attempt. At least Derrick Henry offered a solid encore to his stellar Week 1 effort. He finished with 81 yards and a touchdown on just 15 rushes. The Titans run defense was also particularly effective in limiting Marlon Mack to 2.6 yards per carry on 20 totes.
The Titans were 3-4 as a road team last season and check in at 1-0 in 2019. The Jaguars forged an identical mark on their home field in 2018 and are 0-1 at home this season. However, Jacksonville comes off as a team in a bit of turmoil at the moment. Neither of the Jags’ pair of Pro Bowl corners may be available Thursday. Jalen Ramsey is in the midst of trying to get himself shipped to another team and came close to a physical altercation with Marrone during the Week 2 loss. Meanwhile, A.J. Bouye continues to struggle with a hip injury that caused him to miss Week 2 and doesn’t figure to be 100 percent even if he suits up.
In what I expect to be a hard-fought battle, I’m leaning toward the Titans coming through in a close game.
TNF Point Spread
The point spread has flipped in pretty notable fashion since the open. There was a point last week when the Jags were 3.5-point favorites. That was turned on its head fairly quickly. The 1.5-point spread in favor of the Titans has held steady for several days. Tennessee has exceeded that margin in each of the aforementioned six wins it’s managed versus Tennessee over the last four seasons, prevailing by no less than a field goal.
Betting on either team to cover last season was typically a losing proposition. For their part, the Titans were just 8-8 ATS in 2018. That included a 3-4 mark (42.9 percent) as a road team, including 1-2 as a road underdog. Tennessee was 3-3 ATS in its division games. It’s also worth noting the Titans have stumbled more than succeeded as a road favorite since Mariota arrived. They’re 3-7 ATS under those conditions since 2015.
Then, the Jaguars were an unsightly 5-9-2 (35.7 percent) ATS last season. Yet they were 2-0-1 against the number as a home underdog. The Jags were just 1-4-1 (25.0 percent) versus the spread in division games, however.
The Titans haven’t exactly been a trustworthy team against the number as those previously cited numbers bear out. However, the spread here is a very manageable one and they’ll be facing a potentially short-handed Jaguars defense and a rookie quarterback. While I don’t think it will be easy, I lean toward the Titans prevailing by a narrow margin.
The Lean: Titans -1.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
TNF Over/Under Total
The total for this game began low and has continued shrinking. It’s now 38.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s a full point higher at FanDuel Sportsbook. Any sub-40-point total in today’s NFL is always worth contemplating in terms of a bet on the Over. Granted, neither team’s offense is a powerhouse. However, there are talented and explosive pieces on each that pack the potential to contribute toward at least 39 combined points being scored.
In 2018, the Over was 8-8 in the Titans’ games, including 3-4 in their road games. Meanwhile, the Over checked in at 6-10 in the Jaguars’ contests last season, including 2-5 in their home games. While none of those numbers offer confidence in the total being exceeded, the projected number is especially low. And, it can certainly be argued that Minshew is already a more effective field general than Blake Bortles was the last couple of seasons and therefore has a chance to lead the Jacksonville offense to more consistent success. As far as the series’ recent history, five of the last seven meetings between the teams have finished with at least 39 combined points or greater.
Both teams also have the advantage of talented bell-cow backs in addition to speedy young receivers. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry has particularly made life difficult on the Jaguars in his young career. Never was that more evident than last season’s 17-carry, 238-yard, four-touchdown trampling of Jacksonville in Week 14.
I don’t envision anything close to a shootout here. However, the combination of potential personnel issues in the secondary for Jacksonville and Henry’s past successes against the Jags puts me in the direction of the Over on the modest total.
The Pick: Over 38.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Best TNF Prop Bet
Away Team To Win By 1-6 Points: (+310 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
As mentioned previously, I’m leaning in favor of the Titans moneyline here in a close victory. Tennessee isn’t exactly the type of team to pull away very often. Thursday night games can sometimes result in more modest offensive performances anyhow. With Jacksonville at 0-2 and playing at home, I also expect them to fight for all four quarters and keep this close. The price is also very appealing, further cementing this as my favorite prop for the game.